Advice guide - Protecting your vehicle
Crime prevention advice to help avoid you becoming a victim of vehicle crime.
Crimes against vehicles, including the theft of and theft of items from them, is reducing locally and nationally. But it is important your vehicle is not an easy target for criminals. Most vehicle crime can be prevented.
Follow the advice in this section to help secure your vehicle.
Car security at home
- Where possible ensure that your vehicle is parked on your driveway or in your garage if you have one. Alternatively, ensure your vehicle is parked in a well lit area.
- Have an alarm and immobiliser fitted if your vehicle doesn’t already have one. This is an effective way of deterring criminals. A Thatcham-compliant immobiliser or steering lock can help secure older vehicles.
- Locking wheel nuts are cheap and easy to fit to prevent your alloy wheels being stolen.
- Catalytic converters can be marked using a specialist metal security marking chemical and secure labels to warn potential thieves that the catalytic converter carries an identification mark.
- Keep your car keys safe and out of sight at home. Ensure they are not left near unlocked doors or open windows in your home to ensure they are not easily available to opportunist thieves.
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even for a second. This includes at fuel stations and when de-icing your vehicle.
Security tips when driving
- Keep your doors & windows locked, especially when travelling through built up areas.
- Keep valuables out of sight to prevent them being snatched.
- Never pick up hitch hikers.
- Plan ahead - ensure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Safety tips for driving in winter
- Keep the windscreen and other windows clear – if your vision is obscured through dirt, snow or even sticker-infested car windows you could face a potentially heavy fine. Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows as this can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view. It can be a hazard to other road users as well.
- Dazzle from a low winter sun can also be a problem when trying to see the road.
- Make sure that all bulbs are working and that lenses are clean for safety and to be legal on the road. When roads are really mucky you might need to clean lights after every journey. Keep the number plates clean too, as you can be fined if they are dirty and illegible.
- If you have to clear snow from the car it's important to clear it from the lights - front and back - as well as from the glass and roof.
- You must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced. You may also use front or rear fog lights but these must be switched off when visibility improves as they can dazzle other road users and obscure your brake lights.
- It is recommend at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring, and defiantly no less than 2mm.
- Don't reduce tyre pressures to get more grip – it doesn't work, and reduces stability.
- It's rare to need snow chains unless you live in an isolated area hit with heavy snow, and where the roads are not cleared. They must be removed to drive on a metalled road without a reasonable covering of snow.
- Consider changing to winter or all season tyres – these have a higher silica content in the tread which prevents it hardening at lower temperatures, and therefore gives better grip in cold wet conditions.
Safety checks before your journey
- Get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car.
- Don't drive off like a tank-commander, with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen. Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer.
- Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key for a frozen lock. Don't breathe on the lock, as the moisture will condense and freeze.
- Plan routes to favour major roads which are more likely to have been cleared and gritted.
- Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. Allow extra time for winter journeys but be prepared for the inevitability of being late for work due to unexpected delay.
- Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving - stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow.
Parking your vehicle
- Think before you park, particularly when it is dark or if you are leaving your vehicle for a long time. If possible, park in a busy well-lit area. Avoid parking in secluded spots which could put both you and your car at risk.
- If you are parking in a public car park, use one that has achieved the Park Mark Safer Parking Award. This is an initiative aimed at reducing crime and the fear of crime in parking facilities. The award is granted to parking areas that have achieved the requirements of a risk assessment as conducted by the Police. Visit the Park Mark website for more information.
For further and more detailed advice please refer to our Securing Your Vehicle guide.
Motorbike and scooter security
More motorbikes and scooters are stolen than cars, and unfortunately fewer are recovered. However, theft doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of owning a motorbike or scooter. Vehicle crime is often opportunist, but you can outsmart most criminals by taking simple steps to secure your motorbike or scooter.
Securing your motorbike or scooter
- If your motorbike or scooter doesn’t already have one, consider having a Thatcham or Sold Secure approved electronic immobiliser professionally fitted. Ask your insurance company which devices they would recommend that will not invalidate your policy.
- If you have a security device fitted, always use it. A wide variety of locks can be used, such as chains or padlocks, disc locks and D locks. The most important thing to remember is to secure your motorbike to a solid object that can’t be moved.
- Always put your steering lock on.
- When you are not using your motorbike or scooter, put it in your garage or a secure outbuilding with a fixed or ground anchor to secure it to inside the building. Don’t leave your garage open and make sure your vehicle is covered up, even when you are at home.
Security tips when riding your motorbike or scooter
- When riding, keep your valuables hidden to prevent them from being snatched.
- If you stick to a daily routine, try to vary where you park. Plan ahead and think about where you are going to park. Try and find out where Park Mark car parks are if you are travelling to an unfamiliar place.
- Let a friend or relative know where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
For further and more detailed advice please refer to our motorbike and scooter security guide.
To speak to our Crime Prevention Unit about protecting your property and reducing your chances of becoming a victim of crime, email firstname.lastname@example.org