Keeping Your Car Secure
Anyone who's been a car owner will recognize that proprietorial feeling we get when looking at our new acquisition. Whether it's a trusty old banger or the latest, top-of-the-range lotus with all the add-ons, we see our cars as extensions of ourselves. Our relationship with our chosen mode of transport is very personal: it's a reflection of our character. So how can we ensure that our new (or nearly-new) car is secure? Having your car broken into or stolen can be an extremely traumatic experience, so those of you who want to burglar-proof your wheels, read on.
A common misconception is that thieves won't target a battered, older car, since they will take one look at it and recognize that its resale value isn't worth their time and effort. However, statistics show that older cars are more frequently targeted, whether for theft of the goods inside the car or for the car itself, because their security systems lag miles behind those fitted in modern cars. Modern cars – those built in the past ten years or so – come with a variety of security devices as standard, and for this reason are a harder nut to crack than older models. Modern vehicles are designed with features such as alarms, electronic engine immobilisers, central and automatic locking, double-locking doors, steering wheel locks, and tracking devices as standard – and these are only the tip of the iceberg, now seen as standard by car manufacturers. In the race for car sales, manufacturers have woken up to the idea that safety and security will sell cars, and they are pushing ever-increasing resources into giving their models the best protection they can.
When it comes to car security, insurance is the other half of the equation. Many insurance companies will offer discounts on security products which they have approved, which can give you the extra layer of protection you want for your pride and joy. It is always worth speaking to your insurance company when you buy your car, to see what measures they recommend. In addition, most garages will, for a small fee, etch your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto your car's glass surfaces, including the car's windows, side mirrors, and headlamps. This unique seventeen-digit number allows your car to be singled out from all other cars on the road – and seeing these marks may deter a car thief.
Finally, abide by some sensible rules which will protect both your car and you as its owner. Always ensure that personal items – particularly high-value personal items such as handbags, sat-navs, expensive mobile phones, laptops, or tablet devices – are safely hidden out of sight, preferably in your boot. Never leave your car keys in your coat pocket hanging in a changing room: changing rooms are prime sites for opportunist burglars, who will relieve you of your car keys and then your car. And of course, always think carefully about where you park your car. Don't park your car in ill-lit side streets or in any car park in which you feel uneasy on a personal level. And of course, don't leave your car keys in the ignition; the car windows wide open; or leave your car unlocked. This may seem obvious, but it does happen, and this sort of approach will increase the risk of theft exponentially.