Ideas for keeping your car secure
Whilst buying the car of our dreams can be an incredibly rewarding experience, the excitement it brings can sometimes be tempered by the worry of our perfect vehicle being damaged or – even worse – stolen.
It is common knowledge that criminals are sadly becoming ever more proficient at using technology, as well as cruder methods, in order to break into and drive away with the cars that their unfortunate owners have worked so hard to be able to afford.
If you are among those who worry about your car’s security, though, help is at hand. There is now a huge and increasingly sophisticated range of products available which have been expertly designed to deter and prevent criminals from getting anywhere near whichever model you have proudly driven from home your local Ford car showroom.
Here, we will find out more about some of the best items currently on the market that will ensure you never become a victim of theft, with the help of the following expert product providers:
TTW Distribution LTD
We heard from Elesa Chatfield - who specialises in Product Development & Sales at the automotive accessory experts TTW Distribution LTD - about how recent developments in vehicle technology can present issues for those who are not diligent with their car’s security, and how drivers can act to ensure their own model does not become yet another crime statistic:
‘Car technology has never been so advanced. From driverless cars and auto-park to a multitude of driver aids, many of which come as standard on new cars, you would think our vehicles would be safer than ever.
‘Wrong! According to the Office for National Statistics, last year car crime rose by a whopping 56%, and much of this was attributed to the latest technology, keyless car entry, with gadgets able to gain entry to your pride and joy bought on Amazon and eBay from as little as £100. I ask you the question: how far would you go to protect you and your car?
‘I bring a glimmer of hope and tell you there is something you can do to fight back against these criminals. The Autowatch product is discreetly hidden away and connected to your car’s CAN bus, so there is no sign of a device being fitted. You choose your own 4-20 digit pin which comprises a sequence of button presses on the steering wheel control, dashboard buttons, window and mirror controls. This means the vehicle can’t be started until this unique pin is entered.
‘For those of you who don’t have keyless entry cars and worry about your keys being stolen from your house, there are solutions for you too. From as little as £340 fully fitted, you can fit your car with not only a tracker but (vehicle dependant) an immobiliser and kill switch as well. Taking your car’s security into your own hands, you can immobilise this device from an app on your phone and even kill the car’s engine if the vehicle is stolen and drops below six miles per hour.
‘What about all the uninsured drivers on the road or the “crash for cash” scammers? How do you go about protecting yourself? If you drive in Russia, you will find that nearly every car has a dash camera fitted (think about the meteor captured on dash cam). Here in the UK, although a growing trend, many cars are still unprotected. Whether for liability or safety reasons, or for recording road rage, a dash camera can reduce your insurance premium and give you peace of mind, even letting you log into your car’s camera from a different country (just to check it is still there).
We also spoke with the team at Clifford, who – as one of the leading car alarm and security product manufacturers – are all too familiar with the latest trends in theft. The experts at Clifford told us more about which methods are currently being used by unscrupulous individuals to illegally access vehicles, and how their systems can prevent this from happening to you:
‘A repeating device is used to pick up the keyless key signal and repeat it to another device that transmits the signal to the vehicle. The repeating device tricks the car into thinking that the signal being received is a genuine keyless key near or inside the vehicle. The vehicle is then started and driven away. Some vehicles, meanwhile, have been targets when stationary at traffic lights. In most cases, the criminals approach the vehicle on mopeds before forcing the driver and passengers out. The criminals then drive off in the vehicle with the keys inside. Criminals have even burgled homes in attempts to gain access to vehicle keys. Once the keys are obtained, the criminal simply opens the vehicle and drives off.
‘In all the cases above, the original vehicle security is useless and at no point will a siren sound. The driver or owner is left vulnerable in these situations. We offer solutions to all the above scenarios and more.
‘Our flagship alarm system, the Clifford Concept 650 MKII, offers a two-point immobiliser, with an alarm system that comes with a dual zone proximity sensor. This alerts the owner or driver if someone is in very close proximity to the vehicle (possibly looking in to check the contents).
‘Another optional feature is the BlackJax (also sold as a standalone product, the BlackJax 5). This is an anti-carjacking / key cloning / repeating solution. The driver is required to enter a secret code if they intend to operate the vehicle. If the code is not entered and the vehicle is driven off, a reminder chirp will be heard. Ignoring this will disable the vehicle when it is safe to do so. This feature is also capable of allowing a vehicle to be driven away in the event of a carjacking or burglary/key theft, as the system will monitor the vehicle’s status when it is being driven and will require the code to be entered if the driver exits the vehicle. Once the vehicle has been driven off (the owner is now at a safe distance from the criminal) the system will shut down the vehicle so that it can then be recovered.
‘Monitor tracking systems are also available in the form of the Clifford Connect 6 and Clifford Connect 5. These devices are monitored by a call centre and will alert you if your vehicle is suspected of having been moved without the keys or driver recognition card (depending on which system is installed). Both systems enable the owner to set up geofencing in multiple areas, allowing the car to be in mind even when out of sight. You can also set speed alerts and have the tracking unit alert you if your Clifford / Viper alarm is triggered.
‘A SmartStart device can be used as a non-monitored tracker with remote vehicle access, allowing you to arm or disarm your car and open the boot, as well as set up speed alerts, low battery alerts and geofencing. Some additional accessories may be required, depending upon which system you have installed.
‘Our most simple solution comes in the form of a two-point, high-current immobiliser - the Viper 106V, which requires the driver to touch a coded key onto a receptacle mounted on the dash.’
Carnoisseur are specialists in providing alloy wheels and parts for performance cars which, due to their high value, are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by determined car thieves.
As such, the team at Carnoisseur are more than familiar with the latest trends in vehicle security, and have shared with us the three products they would most recommend for drivers of modern cars:
Disklok steering wheel lock
- ‘Popular in the late 80s and early 90s, the traditional steering wheel lock has made a dramatic comeback in the last two years.
- ‘As vehicle technology becomes more sophisticated, with new keyless entry and keyless go systems, they actually become more vulnerable to theft. Thieves are able to take the signal from your key and store it on a transmitter, which can then be used to unlock and start the car.
- ‘The best way to deter and stop thieves is by using a steering wheel lock. Disklok has consistently been voted the best steering wheel lock available - unlike single bar locks, the Disklok fully covers the steering wheel, and cannot be removed by cutting the steering wheel rim.
- ‘Vehicle trackers allow stolen vehicles to be tracked and located by the police.
- ‘When your car is reported stolen, the device is activated and the signal passed to the local authorities.
- ‘Available with UK and European-wide coverage.
- ‘Tracker is the market leader, with trained fitters nationwide.
Locking wheel bolts
- ‘Alloy wheels and tyres are extremely desirable, especially on vehicles with expensive larger wheels.
- ‘Good quality locking wheel bolts make it extremely difficult for thieves to steal your wheels, saving you the cost of replacing them, and the potential damage that can be caused by removing the wheels and leaving the car on bricks.
- ‘Not all locking wheel bolts are effective. Lots of cheap lock bolts are available that are easily removed. We recommend Thatcham-approved locks - these are very difficult to tamper with and can be fitted in minutes using the key provided and the car's standard wheel brace.’
Finally, Simon Mallard, Managing Director at Motornuts – a comprehensively-stocked car parts website which has virtually every motoring accessory you could ever need – picked out a few of their most popular car security products which should be considered by every driver concerned about their vehicle’s safety:
Steering wheel lock
‘A great visible deterrent, easy to use and to carry with you in the vehicle.’
‘New technology that notifies you if your vehicle is tampered with and, when connected to your immobiliser, can literally stop thieves in their tracks.’
‘More of a security measure for use at home or if your vehicle is going to be stood for long periods.’
‘A lighter weight wheel clamp for drivers on the go.’