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Car crime continues to rise - here's how to help prevent yours being stolen

By Tom Gibson | May 9, 2023

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One piece of equipment is enjoying a resurgence in popularity as motorists look for ways to protect their cars

Car crime continues to rise - here's how to help prevent yours being stolen

Car thieves are becoming increasingly brazen with many knowing resources are so stretched they’re more than happy to take a chance.

And despite thieves becoming more adept at circumventing digital security systems in modern vehicles, a traditional piece of equipment is enjoying a resurgence in popularity: the steering wheel lock. 

The use of electronic scanners and relays by thieves to gain access to cars and start their engines has shot up in popularity but it’s the physical obstruction of the steering lock that remains an effective deterrent. 

Thieves are reluctant to spend too much time trying to defeat a strong security device like a steering wheel lock, as they increase their chances of being caught. 

Steering wheel locks are available at prices ranging from £14.99 for a basic Halford's own-brand single-bar lock to £145 for a Thatcham-approved Disklok. 

According to recent crime statistics, car theft has increased by nearly a third as the cost of living crisis deepens. The Office for National Statistics reported a 29% rise in the number of cars stolen between September 2021 and the same month in 2022, with more than 72,000 vehicles reported stolen. 

The figures also revealed a 14% increase in vehicle crime, including theft of items from inside cars and vans, with the popular Ford Fiesta family hatchback topping the list of most stolen cars. While older vehicles are often targeted using "smash and grab" tactics, modern vehicles are more likely to be stolen by gangs using keyless technology.

Robert Forrester, chief executive of car dealer franchise Bristol Street Motors, part of the Vertu Motors group, said: 'Searches on Google for steering wheel locks are up a staggering 83 per cent compared to this time last year. A steering wheel lock is well worth the investment. These devices may remind drivers of decades gone by, but they are in fact one of the most effective deterrents to have in your car.  Not only are they off-putting to thieves looking for an easy mark, but a good quality lock is pretty much impossible to forcibly remove.'

Clive Wain, head of police liaison at car security firm Tracker, said: 'Criminals continue to find ways around new security technology, which is why we always encourage motorists to use traditional security deterrents such as crook locks and wheel clamps to deter the criminals and protect their vehicles.'

Tracker says keyless car theft and 'relay attack' has increased from 80% of its recovered stolen vehicles in 2017 to 93% in 2022.

It stresses: 'Always protect your key fob. Keyless car theft works through a relay-style electronic device tricking your key fob signal into thinking the key is near to the car and then the device can assume all key fob power.

'To prevent this, keep the key — and the spare, too — away from where the vehicle is kept when not in use, and block the signal by keeping the key fob in a closed tin or Faraday bag.'

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