According to the latest Home Office figures*, older cars are the ones most likely to be stolen, with cars more than nine years old accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total figure and those under three years old making up less than 11 per cent. This is largely due to the fact that newer cars are fitted with sophisticated security measures as standard. The top 10 models reported stolen most often in 2005 were:
- Vauxhall Belmont
- Vauxhall Astra Mk2
- Ford Escort Mk3
- Austin/Morris Metro
- Vauxhall Nova
- Ford Orion
- Rover Metro
- Austin/Morris Maestro
- Austin/Morris Montego
- Ford Fiesta Mks1, 2 and 3
Simple security steps
There are some basic precautions you can take to try and safeguard your car every time you leave it unattended, no matter how briefly. These include shutting the windows and sunroof, locking the doors and boot, and removing the key from the ignition. You should never have valuables on display while parked or on the move, nor should you leave driving documents and vehicle registration details in your car.
When parking on the road, make sure the car is parked on a well-lit busy street, in full view of passers by. If you need to leave it in a car park, try to find one with the police approved Safer Parking scheme, which displays the Park Mark logo. Failing this, look for one that has attendants and is patrolled. Visit the Saferparking website to locate ‘Park Mark' car parks near you. When parking at home, use your garage if you have one and make sure you lock it and your car.
Once you've parked, use an immobiliser to prevent the car from being driven away (newer cars are very likely to have one already fitted, as the Government made this compulsory in 1998).
Locking wheel nuts are easy to fit and effective. Also have your vehicle registration number or the last seven digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (which can be found on the dashboard of most new cars) etched onto all glass surfaces.
If you have a portable sat nav, take it with you when you leave your car. This includes the cradle and suction pads – in order that thieves don't break in under the assumption that it has been hidden in the glove compartment.
Mark your equipment, such as your car stereo, with your vehicle registration number. Alternatively, you can have them security coded. If the item is removed the code will need to be re-entered before it can be operated again.
Worth the effort
Theft rates are higher among cars that don't have effective security devices. Having security equipment on your car, particularly an immobiliser, makes it ten times safer than a car that doesn't have any. If you have fully comprehensive car insurance then you will also be covered. Facts like these mean that taking preventative action to protect your vehicle is a must.
*The 2006 Car Theft Index is based on 2005 data for England, Wales and Scotland.