If you're an Australian who loves cars, you might think “It’s the best of times, and the worst of times.” On the one hand, Australians are buying more cars than ever, with 598,140 new vehicles sold during the first half of 2016, up 2.2% over the previous period.
On the other hand, car theft in Victoria has risen a remarkable 65% in the past year, and this problem is something other states around the nation are also battling. The causes of this trend may be complex – but preventing car theft is simple. Read on for 10 safety tips you can take to secure your vehicle.
1. Put a car alarm sticker on your car
It sounds obvious, right? But it does work. Putting a sticker on your car that indicates it is armed with an alarm serves as the first round of deterrence for any thief eyeing your car as a potential target.
What’s more, you can put a sticker on your car even if it’s not equipped with an alarm. Remember, you don’t need to make your car look absolutely impossible to break into – you just need to make it look like it’s not worth the trouble so the thieves will move onto another vehicle. Buying a sticker costs just a couple of dollars and serves as a powerful deterrent to any thief.
2. Get a car alarm
While a simple sticker is a very effective method of preventing car theft, having an actual alarm is even better. Usually a thief would be unwilling to risk breaking into a car if they know a loud alarm is going to alert others to what they’re doing – but some thieves might try their luck, especially if it’s an expensive or rare vehicle.
Even if a thief is successful in breaking in, the alarm going off will often scare them away and ensure your car (and possessions) are not stolen.
3. Park in visible spots when in public
That old saying, “Prevention is better than cure” rings true when it comes to keeping your car safe.
Always try to park in a populated place, with a clear line-of-sight to your car, and good lighting.
At times this can involve a bit more legwork – driving a little farther to find a parking spot that suits – but the extra effort is always worth it.
4. Park in a visible location at home
While shopping centres and public locations seem like obvious places for car theft, your vehicle can also be vulnerable when you’re at home. A secure garage is always the ideal place to park whenever possible.
Depending on where you live, if a garage isn’t an option, look to park your car where it's visible to you (and your neighbours). If a thief realises someone could see them in the act, they’ll be less likely to try.
5. Keep it clean
It sounds counterintuitive at first. After all, you’re more likely to admire a brand new polished car in a showroom than a dusty one sitting alone in a car park. The difference is in the security that surrounds it.
A thief recognises a well-maintained car is likely to have an alarm on it. An older car with a ton of fast food wrappers in the backseat is unlikely to be owned by someone who places a high premium on security. So, to prevent theft, show you treasure your car and keep it clean.
6. Fix any problems that arise immediately
Alongside keeping your car clean, ensuring it’s in good working order will be another deterrent against theft. It may not bother you that there is a slight dent in your rear bumper, but its presence is a big neon sign that says to thieves, “This car may not be alarmed, and easy to break into.”
7. Check that all doors and windows are properly shut
Even in an era where electric windows and central locking are all standard features of cars, it's easy to leave a window open. The same is true of a door that didn’t shut properly being left slightly ajar – a good thief with an hour to spare will find a way to jimmy it open.
8. Get a parking app to keep an eye on your vehicle
The use of a parking app is a great way to keep an eye on where your car is parked. A number of options exist depending on your car, your alarm, and your phone. A good starting point is using your phone’s GPS with an app like Google Now.
Now allows you to easily see where your car is parked (and is also helpful if you forget where you parked). Beyond this, check with your car’s manufacturer, your alarm company, and your phone provider. Often each will have a custom or companion app you can use which may allow you to remotely lock your car, set off its alarm if someone tries to open your car door, and so on.
9. Try to leave nothing in sight
This is not always practical – if you are carrying a bike in your car or have just been on a big shopping trip, you might need to use the backseat – but even then, covering up your goods with a blanket can help ensure thieves pass you by.
10. Be aware of any manufacturer's issues or defects
It's a sad reality that thieves rarely pick a car at random, but instead look for a specific model. While a highly-prized car like a Ferrari will always be an attractive target, more often than not, a thief will look for a car that has a known manufacturer's issue or defect that they can take advantage of. A clear example of this is the problem Audi owners have suffered in recent years with its valet key vulnerability.
Though the Audi example is a prominent one, it's possible your vehicle may have an issue like all doors not locking correctly on a hot day, or a car boot that can be jimmied open easily. Do a Google search for your car model and “known issues” to see if there’s a problem you need to address.
Car ownership is wonderful but comes with challenges. For every opportunity you get to take a great road trip, there can also be challenges with car maintenance and theft prevention.
By following these tips, you’ll guard against theft, and dramatically decrease the odds it’ll happen to you.
Then you can focus on the great things that come from driving, while avoiding the downsides.
What other tips do you have to prevent car theft? Let us know in the comments below.