Car Security: Myths and Misconceptions
Have you ever worried about your car becoming a target for thieves? Almost every car owner has at one point worried about their car being broken into or stolen by a thief.
While it’s easy to write car theft off as something that will never happen to you, the facts say otherwise. A car is stolen every 147 seconds in the UK, and the next one to be targeted by a thief could potentially be yours.
Think car theft isn’t a problem? Over 370,000 cars are stolen in the UK each year – the highest rate (per capita) in Europe.
There are a great deal of myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to car security. Many do more harm than good, encouraging car owners to ‘protect’ their car when they shouldn’t and avoid protecting it when they should.
In this guide, we’ll bust eight of the biggest car security myths and let you know how thieves really choose which cars to target and how to break into them. We’ll also let you know the facts about which cars are most likely to be targeted by thieves.
Cars don’t get stolen that often
It’s easy to think of crime as something that only happens to other people. However, data shows that a car is stolen every 147 seconds in the UK. That’s once every two-and-a-half minutes – less time than it takes to listen to the average pop song.
Car theft may be more problematic in some areas than in others, but it doesn't mean it can’t happen to you. No matter how safe your area might be, your car could still be thought of as a target worth pursuing for car thieves.
A lock will protect your glove box
Do you have a lock on your glove box? Some car owners install a locking glove box for extra security. While this might seem like a turnoff for thieves, it’s actually seen as the exact opposite by the people most likely to steal your vehicle.
The typical car thief’s thought process is that a locking glove box indicates that the car likely contains something of value. Breaking the lock is simple for most thieves, especially after they’ve broken through your vehicle’s more secure door locks.
Far from preventing theft, locking glove boxes actually act as a magnet for thieves interested in breaking into your car and looting it for valuables. Prevent your car from being targeted by never using it to store valuable items on any occasion.
Thieves only target new cars
Pretend, for a minute, that you’re a car thief. Given the choice between two cars – a brand new Toyota Camry and a 10-year-old model – which would you steal? While most of us non-thieves would pick the newer model, most car thieves wouldn't.
Many people fool themselves into thinking that their car is too old to be targeted by thieves. The reality is that thieves are more likely to target old cars than new ones, since old cars tend to have outdated, easily avoidable security systems.
According to NRMA Insurance, the vast majority of stolen vehicles are over 10 years old. While we might think of old cars as undesirable, thieves see them as the easiest targets for breaking into and looting for valuable items.
Thieves only target luxury cars
Again, pretend that you’re a car thief. You’ve snuck past security and broken into a private car park. You have the choice of two cars to break into: a decade-old Honda Accord and a brand new Bentley Mulsanne.
The choice is easy, right? Any thief with taste (not to mention business sense) will pick the most valuable car, right? Wrong. Thieves usually don’t target luxurious or expensive cars; the most frequently stolen vehicles typically aren’t expensive.
Ever look inside your messy car and think "well, that's why a car thief is like NOPE"— Jackman...Forever (@TheAlexP) 28 October 2014
There are two reasons for this. The first is that high-end cars typically have better security features than inexpensive ones. The second is that it’s a lot easier for local police to track down a rare, expensive Bentley than a more common Honda Accord.
But my car just isn’t worth stealing!
No matter how unremarkable you may think your car is, a thief could think of it as a lucrative target. The most frequently stolen car in the US is the 1994 Honda Accord – not a vehicle that most people would think of as a major target for thieves.
The second most common is the 1995 Honda Civic. The third most common is the 1989 Toyota Camry. Car thieves think in terms of simplicity, not value, and most of their targets aren’t the luxurious, expensive cars you might expect them to be.
Even if you think of your car as unremarkable and unlikely to be stolen, it could be a target. Normalcy is a great thing for thieves; it allows them to blend into the crowd after they’ve stolen your car and more easily avoid detection by the police.
Most stolen cars are quickly recovered by police
Although car crime in the UK is at its lowest level in years, the chances of recovering a vehicle after it’s been stolen aren’t exactly positive. According to RetainaGroup, 41 per cent of vehicles are recovered by police after being stolen from their owners.
The vehicle recovery rate has been declining for the past decade as car thieves take more careful measures to avoid detection. In 2002, 70 per cent of stolen cars were recovered by police – a full 29 per cent more than are recovered today.
While the statistics may not inspire confidence, let them be a reminder of just how important it is to not only insure your vehicle against theft, but to take measures to make it as secure from thieves and break-ins as possible.
Back alleys are dangerous parking spaces
Did you know that most cars are stolen from garages and driveways? While we may think of dark alleys and streets as dangerous places to park, statistics show that cars are most frequently stolen from ‘safe and protected’ parking spaces.
Take Andrew Thornton, who lost his prized Mercedes Benz CLK from his UK home’s gated driveway. Or the fact that more cars are stolen from garages and driveways in the United States than in back alleys or roadside parking spaces. Applying logic to car crime doesn’t always work, as our perceptions of what is and isn’t dangerous are different to those of car thieves. Even at home under lock and key, your car could still be targeted by criminals.
Thieves are organised and professional
Thanks to movies like Gone in Sixty Seconds, it’s easy to think of most car thieves as seasoned professionals with all the tools required to get the job done. The reality is very different: most thieves are opportunists who only target vulnerable vehicles.
According to NRMA Insurance, only 25% of cars are stolen by professionals. Three quarters of vehicles are stolen or broken into by opportunistic thieves that think of them as easy targets – thieves that are, in many cases, easily deterred.
Where do you put your car keys when you arrive home, out of sight or on the hall table where an opportunist thief can find them easily?— Jane Derrick (@ChSuptDerrick) 20 June 2011
From alarms to remote kill switches, adding a basic security system to your car isn’t going to deter all criminals, but it will deter the vast majority of them. Most car theft is opportunistic – turning your car into less of an opportunity will protect it.
Could your car be targeted by thieves?
Every year, more than 370,000 cars are stolen in the UK. From insurance issues to the loss of personal items, the irritating effects of having your car stolen are many, making it important that you keep your car protected.
From alarms to more specialised anti-theft devices such as immobilisers and GPS trackers, installing an anti-theft system in your car is a great way to make sure it’s less likely to be targeted by thieves.
No matter where you live or what type of car you drive, it’s important to take car security seriously. Any type of car, whether new or old, luxurious or basic, can be targeted by opportunistic thieves and criminal gangs.