We’ve been in the car industry for over 18 years so it’s safe to say we know a lot about vehicles and keeping them safe! We work with our clients and their drivers to ensure car safety across their fleet including providing advice like our tips below on keeping their cars safe whilst unattended.
One of the times that vehicles are most vulnerable to thieves and vandals is when they’re left unattended for a few hours, which is why we’ve rounded up our best advice for keeping your car safe overnight in our car safety tips below.
Car Theft Statistics
From October 2020 to September 2021 there were194,771 reported thefts of belongings from vehicles and 95,958 thefts or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle according to the Office of National Statistics in the UK.
We want to help you avoid being one of these statistics which is why we've put together this piece to help keep your vehicle as safe as possible when leaving it overnight.
The large number of thefts is in part due to the changing nature of vehicle security and where these charges are vulnerable.
For example, keyless entry vehicles use a radio signal to unlock and lock them and this signal can be hijacked by thieves through relay devices enabling them to open the car even if your keys are still inside the house. Similar devices and computer software can then be used to start the vehicle and the thieves are gone without you realising.
Additionally, some thieves are able to create new keys or keycards once they are in the vehicle and so they can simply drive away and use the car without raising any suspicion.
Car manufacturers are working to make sure that their technology is as secure as possible, which is why we advise you keep up with software updates as they're released as well as following our tip to keep your keys safe.
Top 10 Tips for Keeping Your Car Safe Overnight
These tips are designed to keep your car as safe as possible. This includes keeping it safe from thieves, vandals, and accidental damage.
There are many more things that you can do to keep your car safe but these are ten of the easiest and most effective ones that we recommend.
1. Park Somewhere Secure
The number one tip is to park somewhere secure. The best way to keep your car safe is to make it difficult for thieves to get to, as most will not want to steal a vehicle that takes a lot of effort and has a higher risk of them being caught.
If you have a garage or sheltered parking space then use this to keep your car safely tucked away for the night.
If you have your own driveway you should park on it when possible as your car will be off the road so unlikely to be damaged by passing motorists, and being so close to a property will deter most would be thieves and vandals from targeting your vehicle.
2. Stay Close
If you don’t have off-road parking and need to park your car on the street, then you should try to park outside your property where possible. General advice is to park within sight of your front windows so that you can see the vehicle when you look outside and can see if there is anything suspicious going on.
3. Light it Up
When you’re not parking on your driveway we advise parking in a well-lit area. If you’re parking on the street try to park under or near a street lamp, even if it is not dark when parking the car this will keep your car visible when the sun does set.
If you are parking in an off-road car park try and park near one of the overhead lights so that your car will be visible throughout the night.
Parking in a well-lit area does not only help deter thieves from stealing from your vehicle but also helps keep you safe when exiting and entering the vehicle in the dark. Safe parking is not only about keeping your car safe but making sure that you will be safe when exiting and entering it.
4. Remove Any Valuables
Wherever you’re parking you should always remove any valuables from the vehicle as this reduces the risk of thieves breaking into your car to steal them.
If you’re not able to remove them from the car you should put them out of sight in a safe location such as the glove box, the boot or under a seat.
Another tip if you use a windscreen or dashboard-mounted satnav is to give the spot a wipe to remove any marks left by the mount. This should reduce the likelihood of the marks being noticed and thieves suspecting there are valuables left in the vehicle.
5. Use a Security Device
There are many different devices you might choose to give your car an extra level of security including:
- Security locks
All of which act as a deterrent to thieves, especially the visible options.
Some cars come with a car alarm installed as part of their existing electronics but if yours doesn’t then you can get one installed. This can be done by yourself or a professional depending on the alarm you opt for and your ability. Many modern devices are also compatible with mobile apps so you can monitor them from any location
An immobiliser stops your car from turning on if the incorrect key is used.
Security locks are a physical type of immobiliser, but the most common kind is an electronic engine immobiliser. For the car to start the key fob sends a signal to the electronic control unit and if it is the correct code the car will activate the ignition, fuel and starter motor. However, if it’s the wrong code or someone tries to hotwire the vehicle the immobiliser will stop these systems from working together.
Since October 1998 all modern cars are fitted with immobilisers as standard so if your is newer than this it will already have an immobiliser. If your car predates this you can have an immobiliser fitted to help reduce the risk of theft.
Another option is to get a security lock. They are a less common option with the advancement of electronic locking systems but you can still use them just as effectively.
There are four types of locking devices available in the UK: a steering wheel lock, a gearstick lock, a clutch lock and a wheel lock. These devices are placed onto the relevant part of the vehicle and then locked into place to prevent it from being moved.
More commonly drivers opt for a steering wheel lock as this is the easiest to get on and off and the least time consuming to use. However, all options are available for you to purchase and use.
As the lock is usually brightly coloured and visible from the exterior of the car it will not only stop thieves from moving off in your vehicle but also deter them from even trying to.
6. Get a Tracker
As well as one of the security devices mentioned above you might want to consider having a tracking device fitted to your vehicle.
This means that if your vehicle is stolen overnight you should be able to use the tracker to locate and retrieve it. We advise giving the location to the police and allowing them to investigate the scene and return the vehicle to you if this occurs. This is because the vehicle could have vital clues like fingerprints and DNA that they need to prosecute the thieves. It might also be dangerous for you to try and retrieve the car yourself.
As keyless entry becomes a more common feature on new vehicles so does the technology used to hack their signal.
A key fob uses a short-wave radio signal to communicate with your vehicle and so when you press the open button, or for newer models are within range of the vehicle it will unlock. Which is great for when you have your hands full or your keys are buried in the bottom of the bag, but the signal technology can be attacked by thieves.
There are a few ways that this can be done but the most common method is to use a signal boosting relay where they use a small device to pick up the signal from your keys in the house and then relay it to the vehicle where a second thief can then open the vehicle. Once inside they can then repeat the process to start the engine in those that have keyless start and drive away.
In order to protect against this, we advise keeping your keys away from the front door, and in a faraday pouch or safe. These are specially designed containers the block the signal of your keys and so prevent signal hacking.
8. Keep the V5 at Home
A more long-term tip is to keep the registration documents, also known as the V5C or V5 out of the vehicle when it’s left unattended.
This form is used to transfer ownership of the vehicle and so if thieves have this they can send it off to the DVLA and have your vehicle transferred into their name.
9. Secure Any Exterior Racks, Boxes and Trailers
If your vehicle has any exterior features like a roof rack, tailgate rack, roof box or trailer attached to it you should make sure these are secured when parked.
Some drivers choose to use cable locks, padlocks or a self-locking version to ensure that these are not taken from the vehicle or items left on them stolen. Where possible we advise to move any items from these and take them with you, especially if it’s expensive.
10. Mark Your Belongings
If you do need to leave items in the vehicle, for example trade tools, then we suggest marking them clearly with your name / the business name and address to make it more difficult for thieves to resell and make them less likely to be taken. We would advise using paint pens and sealing with a clear lacquer so the details cannot easily be removed.
For more of our helpful guide content including how to check your tyres and things to check before going on a long journey head back to the driver guides homepage or check out our blog for more topical updates.