Police are warning car owners to be vigilant amid COVID-19 thefts spike

Police are warning car owners to be vigilant amid COVID-19 thefts spike

A recent spike in car thefts means that police are asking people to take stronger security measures. A few small, economical additions or changes to y

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A recent spike in car thefts means that police are asking people to take stronger security measures. A few small, economical additions or changes to your routine might keep your car safe from theft.

In the UK and US, the incidence of car thefts has skyrocketed. Some parts of the country have experiences 60% increases in thefts. In Lincoln Nebraska, the lockdown period saw a 99% rise in car thefts. Some Bay Area car owners found their cars intact, but all four tyres missing- another frustrating blow when life is already difficult.

Why have car thefts increased?

There are a number of factors thought to be influencing this increase.

One reason is the lack of police out and about. Currently, police are tasked with other roles to do with COVID-19 and this takes them away from their previous behaviours. Thieves will take advantage of any opportunity. A physical presence by police will always be the best deterrent to crime.

People are using their cars less. Because we no longer are going shopping, going to work, or doing anything that requires leaving the house, cars are sitting unused. Whether it’s in a driveway or on the street, for thieves, it’s like going shopping. They can be assured the car will still be there tomorrow when they come back prepared to steal it.

Also, there’s an increased number of job losses and redundancies. For some people, this spells economic disaster. They need money to survive, and car theft can be a profitable activity. Some cars and parts of cars offer very quick returns.

What can you do about it?

  1. Store your car in the garage

If you have a garage, store your car in it. If you have so much stuff in your garage that the car doesn’t fit, this might be a good lockdown project for you and the family.

If you don’t have a garage, store your car as securely as possible. If it is in your driveway, have a security light that has a motion sensor. Consider a security camera that is facing the car. While it may not stop the car being stolen, you may see the car being ‘checked out’ a few days beforehand and then take preventative measures. Worst case scenario, if it’s stolen, you’ll have some good clear footage of the thieves.

  1. Keep your car locked

Always lock all doors, including the boot. Sometimes, when we are parked in our driveways, we have a false sense of security, thinking things on our property are safe. Or, the kids needed something from the car and then neglected to lock the doors afterwards.

Only a few seconds is needed to hotwire the car, don’t make it even easier by leaving the doors unlocked. Also, don’t leave the car keys somewhere easy to spot. If you have them hanging by the front door, it takes seconds to open the door, grab the keys, and make a quick getaway.

  1. Invest in an anti-theft alarm system.

Activate the alarm if you have one. If you don’t have one, consider buying and installing one. A quick and cheap fix is a small, blinking light you can affix to your dashboard. It looks like your car is alarmed, even though it’s not. It might be enough to deter the opportunist thieves.

  1. Remove valuables from the car

Don’t leave anything of value in the car. This includes laptops, iPods, free-standing navigational units and tools. In fact, it’s best to clear out your car altogether. If a thief sees clutter, they may assume there’s more hidden out of eyesight. So take the kid’s toys inside, remove the spare clothing that seems to accumulate, and keep the car clean—another great lockdown project.

  1. Consider additional security measures

Consider a way of immobilising the car. This could be a steering wheel lock or even a wheel clamp. While they might seem small changes, they offer a significant trouble for thieves, and are an added disadvantage for them. They would much rather have easy wins. Wheel lock nuts are another cheap, easy investment that are frustrating for would-be car thieves.

If your car windows aren’t etched already, get the rego number etched on the windows and windscreen. It just creates another nuisance for the thieves that they don’t want to deal with.

If you have a boat or trailer, a wheel lock is a good option to immobilise them too. Because they are used infrequently, it’s not a big inconvenience for you.

  1. Pay your car insurance

If all else fails, at least you have car insurance. Make sure those premiums are up to date and that your policy covers you for theft. If you’re financially struggling, call your insurer, they may allow a premium holiday or reduction for a period, while maintaining cover.

But the best strategy is to be alert. Look out for prowlers in the neighbourhood, and a combination of the other strategies here make your car a very unattractive target for car theft.