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Vehicle Crime

Most vehicle crime is opportunistic and therefore preventable.

Car Key Burglary

Car key burglary has increased in recent years as high value cars have improved security systems.

It is important to take extra care to reduce the risk of becoming a victim by:

  • Keeping all keys out of sight and away from doors and windows.
  • Keeping doors and windows locked even you are at home.
  • Installing a home security system and setting the intruder alarm at night.
  • Using European standard TS007 anti-snap locks on UPVC doors.
  • Installing and activating a tracking device on your vehicle.

Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic Converter under a carTo avoid becoming a victim of this kind of theft, follow this advice:

  • Fitting perimeter security fencing can help deter opportunist thieves and slow down more organised thieves.
  • Good security lighting makes vehicles more visible and can act as a deterrent.
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) can be an effective deterrent.
  • Where possible park a vehicle against a kerb, with the catalytic converter being closest to the kerb.
  • If there is a fleet of vehicles, park the low clearance vehicles to block the high-clearance vehicles. This will obstruct access underneath.
  • If a catalytic converter is a bolt on type it is possible to have the bolts welded shut.
  • Fit protective coverings on catalytic converters, these can make it much more difficult for thieves.
  • Have your catalytic converter etched or forensically marked and put stickers in the windscreen to say this has been done.

Fuel Theft

To help in the prevention of fuel theft you should consider the below. Every accessible vehicle becomes a potential target for fuel theft.

Petrol Station blueParking:

  • Park in a highly visible, well lit area.
  • Off-road parking areas such as secure compounds should be used whenever possible.

Effective security lighting:

  • Good dusk to dawn security lighting makes your vehicles visible to passers by without creating glare.
  • Consider additional movement sensor lighting which would alert a passer by to an intruder.

Security Fencing

Good quality strong perimeter fencing will deter the occasional/opportunistic thief and it should slow down the more organized thieves so that your other security measures such as monitored CCTV can respond.


The fixing of signs highlights the security measures you have put in place and helps deter thieves. They can also remove a potential thief's excuses for being in a particular area or carrying out a specific action. Some examples:

  • Private property keep out.
  • Warning CCTV in operation.
  • Security patrols in operation.
  • Cat converters and property security marked.
  • All vehicles have security devices.
  • All vehicles are left with minimum fuel.

Locking Fuel Caps and Anti Siphoning Deterrents

There are many products available, such as: locking fuel caps and anti siphoning deterrents that can make the fuel tanks on your vehicle less vulnerable.

Motorbike Security

Stand alone police motorcycleHere are some simple tips to help protect your motorbike:

  • Forensically mark the main parts of your motorbike and increase your chances of getting it back if lost or stolen.
  • Have the main parts of your bike marked with the vehicle identification number (VIN), and register it for free at the Immobilise website.
  • Always use security devices such as immobiliser's, disc locks, strong chains and padlocks.
  • To prevent the bike being lifted onto another vehicle undetected, use motion sensors to help alert anyone in the area to suspicious activity.
  • If you have a secure garage or outhouse, store your bike in it.
  • If selling your bike online, try and get full contact details from the buyer, and make a note of their vehicle registration. Thieves have been known to pose as legitimate buyers, returning later to steal a bike once they know where and how it is stored!
  • If buying motorbikes or bike parts online, always buy from a trusted seller with a good track history.

Theft from Motor Vehicles

Theft from vehicle with open windowsWith the exception of specialist theft for car parts such as catalytic converters, most car theft from motor vehicles is opportunistic. This often involves forced entry to vehicles but it is surprising just how many cars are left unlocked.

You can reduce the risks by following some simple advice:

  • Make sure you have locked your vehicle and your windows are closed too, even for short stops.
  • Use your garage or park in well-lit, well-populated and overlooked areas.
  • Remove your valuables. Even bags, jackets, cases and toys have a value to a thief.  
  • Lock possessions away in your boot, but only if you cannot access the boot from the rear seats and you cannot unlock the boot from a switch in the cabin.
  • Remove loose change from view. Its presence may tip the scales in any decision on whether to attempt to break in.
  • Remove electronics such as sat-navs. You should also remove any holders or chargers and wipe clear suction cup marks.
  • Register expensive in-car entertainment systems with Immobilise
  • Keep ID badges on your person as they are attractive to fraudsters.
  • Don't assume your vehicle has locked properly using a key fob lock. Criminals can use devices which block the signal. Always check your doors are locked before leaving your vehicle unattended.

Thefts from vans:

  • When tools and equipment are not being used, ensure they are kept securely in a lockable store rather than in your vehicle.
  • Consider whether the storage area can be alarmed. If the equipment is portable, take it with you.
  • Don't leave tools in vehicles unattended or overnight, and place a sign in the window stating they have been removed.
  • Visibly mark your machinery and tools using an engraving or chemical etching kit or use a forensic marking kit. Place a sticker in your window to say you have done so - the signage alone, can be a very effective deterrent. 
  • Consider the use of security patrols around building sites.
  • Keep the access to building sites secure - fences and gates help prevent unauthorised entry.

Wheels and Tyres

Locking wheel nuts are commonplace on newer vehicles but lower value models may have cheaper steel rims that may not be locked. The average cost of four tyres is over £200, so we recommend you fit all your wheels with locking wheel nuts.

For information on theft of registration plate, please click here.

Theft of Motor Vehicles

Below are some simple things that you can do to avoid becoming a victim of car theft.


  • Don't leave your keys in the vehicle unattended. This includes on winter mornings while "warming up" the vehicle. Your insurance company is unlikely to compensate you if your car is stolen in this situation.  
  • Keep your keys out of reach and out of sight when at home. They are vulnerable to being snatched in sneak-in burglaries. Keys hung up or placed near front doors could be "fished" using a hook and wire fed through a letterbox.
  • Keep your keys secure when out and about.
  • Keep spare keys secure and safe at all times. Consider giving it to a friend or relative for safe keeping, especially if you are going away.
  • When using remote locking key fobs check for visible or audible signals that your vehicle locked when you pressed the button.
  • Ensure that you close your windows before you leave your vehicle. 


  • Use your garage if you have one.  
  • On private driveways, keep trees and shrubs maintained so you and your neighbours can see the vehicle from your properties.
  • Consider dusk till dawn lighting to illuminate the area. 
  • When parking on a street, pick a well-lit and populated area.

Alarms and Immobiliser Systems

If you drive an older vehicle without an alarm or key transponder, consider having a Thatcham approved product professionally fitted as:

  • Criminals exploit known weaknesses in manufacturer fitted standard security systems. A professionally installed aftermarket product protects the vehicle further and reduces the risk of being targeted.
  • Most manufacturers security systems are basic and rely on the doors being opened to activate. An alarm system that detects movement may not prevent the breaking of a window but its activation may prevent a more sustained attack.


If you own a desirable, expensive car or unique vehicle, consider fitting a Thatcham CAT5 approved multi-band (GPS /GSM/VHF) tracking system. Have it installed by a professional fitter and advertise it by displaying window stickers. Effective Thatcham CAT5 systems are expensive to install and have high annual fees. They also need robust locating networks in place to help in the recovery of stolen vehicles quickly. 

Steering Locks

Use a steering lock in combination with a steering wheel security disk lock. It is a cheap and effective way to prevent anyone driving your vehicle away.

Commercial Diesel Theft

Fuel thieves typically assess opportunities during the day time and strike at night or weekends.

Be aware of loiterers and strangers walking through your vehicle parking areas and challenge any suspicious behaviour.

Helpful tips:

  • Store diesel in a secure fuel tank and use good quality locks.
  • Avoid installing storage tanks in isolated areas such as outlying buildings.
  • Consider using a mobile tanker that could be removed to a secure place when not in use.
  • Consider the use of a diesel dye; that makes your diesel traceable and therefore less attractive to thieves.
  • Report incidents of suspicious activity to the police and if possible record vehicle details and descriptions of the people involved.
  • Consider fitting alarms, gates and lighting.