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January is one of the hardest times of year for motorists, not only are the dark days a hindrance, but the wintry weather can also cause potential hazards on the road. With the dark comes the higher risk of car theft, so January is a good time to think seriously about protecting yourself and your vehicle from the elements.
Below, Trusted Dealers outlines a few top tips to help you protect your vehicle from car theft, whether you’re out and about or at home.
Always be aware of your surroundings and be able to recognise any potential hazards. When leaving the house, a supermarket or a petrol forecourt, we’re often keen to open our car as soon as possible and get out of the cold biting weather. It’s easy to unlock the car now from a distance using a key fob, but this could give thieves a longer amount of time to access your car and grab any valuables from it before you get to it, particularly if your boot opens automatically. Always wait to open your car when you get to it to decrease the risk of theft and keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Do not leave your car keys lying around. Whether you’re at home, at a friend’s house or in a bar or cafe, displaying your car keys for the world to see if never a good idea. If out in public, you won’t know everyone around you, so making your keys visible could pose a greater risk of theft. You could also be exposing yourself to what is known as “code grabbing” whereby thieves use an electronic device to steal the code exchange between a key fob and a car and can then use this info to steal the car. Be security conscious about code grabbing from your keyless entry, are you being watched?
Every time you leave your car be vigilant. Move any valuables that might be on display and put them out of sight, for example leave and small items in a locked glove box or larger items such as holdalls and handbags in the boot of your car to avoid them being seen.
Do not fall into the trap of leaving your car keys next to doors or windows. A classic is to leave your car keys lying on the windowsill by your front door. Thieves can then use what’s known as a “fishing” method where they insert a hook through a letter box or window and search for any keys that happen to be lying about nearby. This can even be done successfully while you’re at home and you may not notice until you go to leave the house and discover your car keys, and subsequently you car, are both gone.
We’ve all climbed into our cars and realised we’ve forgotten something, and it’s tempting to think about simply hopping out the car, dashing inside and retrieving that thing while the engine is still going. This is a definite no go. You never know if thieves are watching, and leaving your vehicle unattended with the keys in the motor offers the perfect chance for an easy getaway for a professional thief. It will only take them a few seconds to drive away.
Choose where you park your car wisely. In a busy car park, it’s easy to go for the first space available if you’re in a rush, but it’s well worth considering the neighbours who are beside you first. Parking next to a scruffy truck full of dents and marks might not be the best choice as the potential for damage to your car could become greater. Opting for a pristine well kept vehicle is a better choice to maximise the safety of your car while you are gone. In addition, parking closer to the door in any car park, or in a well lit area of the forecourt, is a safer option, particularly if you know you’ll be returning to your car when its dark or when you will be alone.