One of the most common crimes that happen today is car theft.
We tend to think that car thefts happen in poorer countries where criminals try to make some extra money by stealing the cars of unsuspecting owners and drivers. But in reality, the picture is very different.
Canada, which is considered to be one of the best places to live, has one of the highest rate of car thefts too. Statistics show that about 300 cars are stolen everyday in Canada, which is a surprise because Canada has an advanced and thriving economy for its people.
Likewise, Australia also has a high number of car thefts, at about 240 a day. Some studies estimate that a car is stolen in Australia every six minutes. Again, a surprise considering that Australia also is a developed economy that can sustain its population.
The UK is no different too, as reports show that 239,920 cars were stolen between 2015 and 2017, and there has been a steady increase in the number of cars stolen each year. For example, 2016 had a 26% increase when compared to 2015 and 2017 saw almost a 40% increase in some areas when compared to 2016.
These statistics clearly show some important trends around the world. The first trend is car thefts are not confined to any particular region of the world and is spread everywhere. Secondly, these statistics must the myth that car thefts happen only in underdeveloped countries. On the contrary, thefts seem to be more prevalent in countries with advanced economies.
If you look closely, it also makes sense. When a thief steals a car, there are two things that he or she can do with it. The first option is to sell it in the black market after removing the number plate. This makes the car hard to trace. The second option is to strip down the car’s parts and sell these parts separately, so buyers can make custom cars or can repair their existing cars at a much cheaper rate because the parts will be cheaper.
To do either of these two actions, car thieves need access to cars that are of good quality and in large numbers. An advanced economy is more likely to have a higher percentage of car among their population when compared to underdeveloped countries. Also, the black market in advanced countries will be bigger because of the high demand for it.
Due to all these reasons, car thefts are more likely in advanced countries than in emerging ones. So, if you live in the UK, USA, Canada or Australia, you should take extra measures to protect your car.
Car Theft Prevention Devices
One of the best ways to protect your car from car thieves is to use good quality anti-theft car devices because they can give that extra protection, and more importantly, peace of mind for you because you know that your car will be safe.
But picking an anti-theft device is not easy because the market is flooded with many options. The best way to pick the right device is to understand what each device and how it can protect your car. Another aspect to consider is whether that device is ideal for your car model and make.
Let us know understand the popular car theft prevention devices available today.
Generally speaking, vehicle anti-theft devices come under two categories. One category of devices are fairly basic and are designed to disable your car when stolen. The idea is this greatly reduces the car’s attractiveness for car thieves because they will not be able to make a lot of money out of it.
The second category is advanced devices that give you more protection, including the possibility of even tracing your car when it is stolen.
There are many car security devices available under each option, so we will look at each of them to help you zone in on the one that you feel is most ideal for your car.
Steering Wheel Locks
Steering wheel locks is one of the most popular options used by car owners because it is simple to install and is fairly effective. As the name suggests, this device is placed on the steering wheel to lock it down completely. Nobody can drive the car until the lock is removed.
There are many variations in steering wheel locks. One type of lock is where you fir it in the rim of the steering wheel. You can then extend it and lock the handle in place on either side around the steering wheel rim. Since this is a large device, its length prevents the thief from turning the steering wheel, so it becomes difficult to move the car.
Though the size and type of lock may vary, all steering wheel locks will ensure that the steering cannot be operated unless the lock is removed with the help of a key.
Another popular car security device that is used by many people is hood locks. As the name suggests, this device locks down the hood, so your thief cannot open the hood and steal your car parts when you are away.
These locks are placed on either side of the hood, so the thief cannot open it. These locks are similar to hood pins that are found on some muscle cars, but they are not the same. Hood locks need a key to open the lock, so you can be sure that the thief cannot steal your car parts like battery and engine.
Another basic device that is popular among car owners is tire lock. As the name suggests, this is a lock that’s put on the tire, so the car cannot be moved without removing the lock.
This lock is most often used by police departments to make your car immobile, and is usually done when drivers have committed a parking or traffic offence. But you can also use this device to ensure that a thief does not drive away your car easily.
Electronic immobilizers may sound like a fancy word, but in reality, it something that we use every day.
When you click this electronic immobilizer, this car security device locks down the car to ensure that it doesn’t start without a key. Also, the fuel system locks down and the engine will not start.
This vehicle anti-theft device uses radio frequency or RFID to send a signal to the key fobs that also contain an RFID chip. So, when the device that comes with your car key sends a signal to the RFID chip in your key fob, the car is locked down automatically. The car can start only when the RFID sends the signal back to the chip.
Since each RFID key is unique, this gives a reasonable amount of protection to your car.
Kill switches shut down the electrical system of your car. This device is activated when your car is locked and the owner or driver should do a series of actions to unlock the car again.
These switches come with a detailed manual to explain the operations because the installation is a little more elaborate when compared to the other basic vehicle anti-theft devices we have seen so far.
The kill switch comes with a mini-toggle switch and a wire. This switch is anywhere between 1/2 an inch to 1/4 inches in width and can be kept anywhere on your car, maybe just below the front seat, so the thief cannot spot it.
Another popular car theft prevention device used world over is car alarms. These alarms are activated when a thief attempts to steal your car. Typically, you will get a beeping sound when someone breaks the glass in car windows or tries to open the car without the right key. Some alarms are very sensitive that they will buzz even when someone touches the car or something falls on it accidentally.
But these alarms warn you when someone is trying to steal your car, though there could be many false alarms as well. It is most ideal when you park your car close to your place, so you can get alerted by the alarm right away. Most models come with built-in alarms today, but you can also choose to install it separately. A lot of alarms even come with stickers displayed prominently on the car to warn the thief, and to deter them from trying to steal.
Limitations of Basic Vehicle Anti-Theft Devices
Before moving on to other devices, one word of caution here.
The above basic devices do a great job of protecting your car, but then they are limited in many ways. For example, a steering wheel lock alone cannot stop a thief from stealing your car’s engine while a hood lock alone doesn’t stop the thief from driving away your car.
This means, basic devices can only protect a certain aspect of the car stealing process, and will not be able to give a comprehensive protection for your entire car when used alone. This is why it is a good idea to combine one or more of these basic devices to ensure that you provide the best possible protection for your car.
Another possible limitation with these devices is that the thief could come up with ways to remove the lock, either by using a fake key or through some other lock-opening technique. When they do that, it defeats the very purpose of the lock. Though removing a lock using such techniques is not easy, there is nevertheless a possibility, especially if your thief is skilled.
All this means, basic devices offer a certain measure of protection only and not a comprehensive one. It is most ideal if you park the car in your driveway or if you live in a relatively safe suburb. Otherwise, you are better off using these basic devices in combination with more advanced car security devices to give that extra bit of protection for your car.
Advanced Car Theft Prevention Devices
Advanced car theft prevention devices give greater protection for your car, so the thief cannot easily take it to an unknown location.
Two such advanced vehicle anti theft device are electronic tracking devices and GPS tracking devices.
Electronic Tracking Devices
Electronic tracking devices help law enforcement to identify the exact location of your vehicle within a few minutes or hours of reporting.
Typically, when your car is stolen, you report the theft to a law enforcement officer. This officer, in turn, enters the vehicle number in the National Crime database. As soon as the car is entered in this database, the electronic tracking device gets activated.
This device gives the exact location of the car with GPS coordinates, so the law enforcement officials can grab the thief easily, regardless of whether the thief is driving your vehicle or has parked it in some undisclosed location.
There are more than 14,000 computers used for tracking stolen vehicles, so the recovery rate is quite high. Many vehicles have been recovered from remote locations, so as long as there is some signal, the law enforcement will be able to pick up your vehicle. Past statistics show that the recovery rate is about 90%.
GPS Tracking Device
The other option is to use GPS tracking device to track the location of your vehicle at any time. This tracker is installed in your car, so the car can be tracked at any time. These trackers are thin, easy to install and maintenance free. It comes with a GPS chipset and an antenna to give you the precise location, regardless of where your car is located.
The obvious advantage is that when a thief takes your car, you’ll know that it has been stolen and the exact location at that point in time. This will make it easy for you and the police to track the vehicle and bring it back.
One problem with these electronic tracking devices is that it cannot prevent a thief from stealing the car parts like battery. Let’s say, a thief drives your car to a remote location, removes the parts he/she wants and abandons the car at that location. Using these electronic devices, you will be able to get to the car’s location, but it will still make your car worthless.
Again, this brings up the need to use a combination of devices to get the highest possible security for your car, so he chances for a thief to gain from stealing is greatly reduced.
Now that we have discussed the different vehicle anti-theft devices available, it is time to decide which is the best. First off, there is no solution that works well for everyone. So, the choice depends to a large extent on what is most comfortable for you, the kind of car thefts that happen in your locality and what is most ideal for your car model and make.
Sometimes, it makes sense to have a combination of these car theft prevention devices for extra safety and protection. For example, you can have a steering wheel lock and a hood lock to ensure that the thief cannot drive your car to any place nor can he/she open the hood to steal the car parts. So, using a combination of devices can give extra security for your car.
Other factors to consider while choosing the right combination of vehicle anti theft devices are:
- Budget – Car security devices come across a wide spectrum of costs. So, to some extent, the exact device you want depends on how much you are willing to spend. Your best bet though is to buy the most expensive car theft prevention device to give you the highest possible protection.
- Location – In general, if you live in a safe suburb, you can think about opting for a combination of basic security devices as they tend to cost less. But if the area you live has a high crime rate, it is best you go for the most elaborate car security device.
- Car model – To a large extent, the car model you drive has a bearing on the security system you should buy. Car thieves have preferences for certain models when compared to others. For example, Honda sedans are a big hit among thieves in Canada while Australian car thieves prefer to steal a Nissan. It varies from country to country, so you should look at the trending cars for theft and if yours falls in that list, go for the most elaborate car security devices.
Overall, car thefts happen world over, so you will have to take extra measures to protect your car. There are many kinds of car security devices available today, ranging from the simplest to the most elaborate and expensive ones. Each of these devices come with their own set of pros and cons, so it is best you use a combination of devices to give the best possible security to your car.