Ten steps to keeping your vehicle and its contents safe

Busy car park, day.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

We provide tips to keep your vehicle and its contents secure. Plus information on Parkmark, Vehicle Watch and the National Mobile Property Register.

Do you perform the ‘3-step check’ before leaving the house? For those readers who do not know what this is, allow me to explain. The 3-step check goes as follows

  • Do I have my purse or wallet? Check.
  • Do I have my keys? Check.
  • Do I have my phone? Check.

These little readiness checks ensure a smooth start to the day and help to reduce our worries that we’ve left something behind or, worse, unlocked.

Now think about whether you repeat routine checks every time you leave your vehicle.

Our vehicles are such an essential part of our lives that it can be very easy to take their presence for granted and forget that we should be alert for vehicle-related crime at all times. Why? Well, in 2020 alone, there were 74,769 vehicles reported as stolen.1

Do you want to keep your vehicle and its contents safe? Then follow our top 10 dos and don’ts of vehicle security.

  1. Do lock your doors and glove compartment. Research has shown that adults forget, on average, 3 things a day – do not let locking your vehicle be one of them! If your vehicle has keyless entry, try the door before you leave; thieves can use blocking devices against locking systems.
  2. Do not leave your valuables on display. Hide any purses, wallets, phones or devices in a lockable place, such as the glove compartment or boot. Remove your satellite navigation system – and do not forget the cradle! An empty cradle on the windscreen or dashboard is a sure sign that a sat nav is hiding in the vehicle.
  3. Do plan where you park. If possible, park somewhere that’s well lit and visible. Park facing an obstacle such as a wall or bollard; this will stop any quick getaways if the worst should happen. If you’re in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, use www.parkmark.co.uk to find a car park that’s been approved by the police.
  4. Do not leave your vehicle running unattended, even if just to step away for a short period of time. We cannot plan for distractions, but we can plan for our vehicles to be safe should they happen.
  5. Do join the National Mobile Property Register. This is the police’s national record of stolen items; you can register your vehicle with them, so if it’s stolen it will be searchable on the database. It’s free, it takes 5 minutes, it gives you peace of mind – what’s not to like?
  6. Do not leave your windows open. If you have electric windows, press and hold that button. If you have manual ‘keep fit’ windows, give your arms a workout and turn until you can turn no more! The obvious exception to this rule is if there’s a pet in the vehicle. It’s best not to leave animals unattended in your vehicle but, if it’s unavoidable, then make sure it’s only for a short period of time and leave the window open just a crack to let in fresh air.
  7. Do join a Vehicle Watch scheme, if there’s one in your area. You’ll be provided with high-visibility stickers which, if applied, invite the police to stop your vehicle if it’s seen in use between midnight and 5am. Interested? Ask your local crime prevention officer for more information.
  8. Do not leave any documents showing your address in the car. This includes your V5C vehicle registration document. If this document falls into the wrong hands, it could be used for fraudulent purposes.
  9. Do store your vehicle keys out of sight in your house. Avoid placing the key rack near any letterboxes or windows. If your vehicle keys are on the same keyring as your house keys, do not leave them in the door.
  10. Do not forget your number plate: make sure it’s theft proof. If a thief transferred your number plates to another vehicle, you’d receive any parking or speeding fines they collected. You can buy theft-resistant number plates, which are designed to break apart if forcibly removed. Security screws can also be used and fitted with standard tools.

You can read more about vehicle security in The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills.

1 see: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-9187613/What-cars-stolen-2020-according-DVLA-data.html

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