With today’s sophisticated technology and transponder chip car keys, you could be forgiven for thinking that vehicle theft is a thing of the past. Think again. Although it’s hard to find accurate statistics, it seems getting on for 400,000 cars are stolen each year in the UK.
According to the AA website, your car keys are the weakest link in your car’s security. And when you think about it, that makes sense. But the weakness is not so much in the transponder technology but in what you do with your keys!
Hands up who has a rack just inside the front door where you hang your keys when you come in? Quick, convenient and no problems with losing your car keys around the house – yes. Secure? Eh… no! Canny car thieves are quite adept at fishing car keys off hooks through the letter box while the unsuspecting owners are asleep.
Is your front door always locked? If you leave it unlocked, you’re making it easy for opportunistic thieves to make off with your car keys, and the family silver. And what’s worse, you’ve just presented them with a getaway car on a plate! So lesson number one – keep your car keys well away from weak points like doors or windows.
Lesson number two is about keeping car keys on the same ring as your house keys. Makes it nice and easy and saves worrying about locking yourself out of the house, doesn’t it? But how many times have you left the keys in the front door and failed to notice? You might just as well put a sign on your car saying ‘help yourself’.
Number three is for the girls. Who wanders around the shops with their car keys sitting on the top of an open handbag? And when would you notice they were gone? All an enterprising thief has to do is tour the nearby car parks where your vehicle is waiting to obligingly acknowledge its transponder signal.
Transponder car keys, which came in around 1995, do help with vehicle security, but it’s up to you to take sensible precautions too. Vehicles manufactured before then (M reg) had traditional keys and some had a separate immobiliser. Who remembers the old Ford Escort V2 of the 1980s, which took nothing more sophisticated than a 10p piece to unlock?
Apart from a house, your car is probably one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s in your interests to protect it. I recommend you visit the Car-Theft.org website to find out how you can prevent your car being stolen and what to do if it is.
Lost your car keys?
If you’ve lost your car keys, call for assistance as soon as you realise they’ve gone. A mobile vehicle locksmith will gain entry to your car, cut you a new key and recode your transponder system. This does more than get you back on the road. It means your vehicle will be protected from theft, because your lost keys will be obsolete and of no benefit to anyone finding them.