Despite the increasingly complex methods of security being employed by car manufacturers, there will always remain the Achilles heel of the car key when it comes to ensuring 100% security. The recent theft of vehicle keys and three cars from the home of an MP have highlighted the need for owners to protect their keys and not rely solely on vehicle alarms and immobilisers.
The London home of Conservative law and order spokesman, Edward Garnier was burgled recently. The thieves took keys for cars belonging to him and his family, and then simply drove them away from outside the house in Stockwell.
"Manufacturers have been very successful in making cars difficult to steal, so vehicle crime has moved on and stealing keys – sometimes using violence – is increasingly the method of choice for car thieves," said Wendy Rowe, boss of vehicle security marking and registration company, Retainagroup. "What’s needed is a strong theft deterrent, as alarms and immobilisers are no barrier when you have the keys
"It is essential that keys should never be left in a vehicle, even for a minute, and that they are not left lying around at home or at work where an opportunist thief can easily find them. If a car is stolen with the keys, it might even invalidate the insurance." A spate of thefts of cars from the forecourt of petrol stations using this method highlighted the fact that insurers will take a dim view if your car has been stolen because of your carelessness.
The Retainagroup security marking and registration system uses state-of-the-art laser technology, stencils with chemical etching, and ultra-destruct and anti-tamper stickers to mark around 700,000 vehicles a year. Marking vehicles makes them easy to trace and much harder to sell or break-up, which in turn devalues them for criminals. It is also a powerful tool in combating and detecting vehicle cloning – a growing problem for owners and the police.