How to keep your car safe from theft

With car thefts on the rise in New Zealand, here are some helpful tips to protect your vehicle.

How to keep your car safe from theft

There’s no worse feeling than going out to your car, only to discover it’s no longer there. Car theft is not only a huge inconvenience, but it’s also very frustrating knowing someone’s out there enjoying the vehicle you’ve paid for and looked after.

Owning a car is a significant investment and responsibility, particularly with regards to finance, maintenance and security. Car thefts are on the rise in New Zealand, with Kapiti alone averaging ten car thefts a day. Data shows that car thefts are up 36.5% across the country for the year ending 30 June 2022 and it’s even worse in Auckland, where car thefts are up by 43%.

While these numbers are scary, there are steps you can take as a car owner to protect one of your most valuable assets. Here are some handy tips on how to keep your car safe, so you don’t find it stolen when you least expect it.

Always lock your car

This point almost goes without saying but you should always check your car is locked, even when it’s parked outside your home or in the garage. Your car door locks are the first and most vital theft deterrent system your vehicle has.

Breaking into a locked vehicle takes time and expertise and if your door is locked thieves are more likely to move on until they find one that’s easily accessible. If you have an electronic key locking device, double-check your car is locked before walking away.

Don’t leave your keys inside your car

Even if you’re leaving your car unattended for a short time, you should never leave the keys in the ignition. This gives opportunist thieves an easy opportunity to get into your car and drive off. Worst of all if, like many of us, you’ve attached your house keys to your car keys, you give criminals easy access to your house as well.

Choose carefully where you park

You should ideally park your car in your driveway or garage but, if this isn’t an option, choose to park in a busy, well-lit area. While you might live in a lovely, peaceful street, this also means would-be thieves have a quiet, undisturbed place to target your car. There is nothing thieves dread more than drawing attention to themselves, so, if you park in a busy area with good visibility, the chances are they will avoid targeting your vehicle.

Fit good in-car security locks

Bear in mind that built-in steering locks aren’t thief-proof, as many can be forced and broken. Fitting a secure steering wheel, gear lever, or clutch pedal security device will give your vehicle added protection.

Think twice before modifying your car

Be aware of the impact of adding modifications to your car, such as chrome hub caps. They’ll make your car stand out and potentially be more attractive to thieves and vandals.

Make your car appear empty of valuables

If you need to leave items in your car, store them in your boot with the cargo blind or parcel shelf covering them. If they’re smaller objects, put them in another storage area like your glovebox. Don’t simply throw a jacket or blanket over any valuable items, as this is unlikely to fool anyone. Cars with items in them are more attractive to thieves, so try and make your car look empty; ideally, remove items that don’t need to be there.

Add a car alarm, immobiliser, camera or tracking device

Most modern cars come with a factory-fitted immobiliser but adding a car alarm can reduce your car insurance premiums and the risk of car theft. If you have no factory fitted car security, make fitting an immobiliser a priority.

Installing a camera in your car can be useful too. Nowadays it’s relatively cheap and easy to install a camera that lets you watch what’s happening inside and outside your car from your mobile phone. If you spot a theft underway, you can even record the perpetrators while you call the police.

Also, while fitting a tracking device won’t prevent a vehicle from being stolen, it can increase the chances of it being recovered and returned.