Vehicle security

Show the red light to vehicle crime

The majority of vehicle crime can be prevented. By taking some simple steps that will only take a few moments, you can ensure your cars, motorbikes and bicycles are kept as safe and secure as possible.

Cars, motorbikes and bicycles are appealing to thieves, and poor security can make the theft of and theft from vehicles easier for criminals. It can be distressing, annoying and can cause a lot of inconvenience for the owner.

There are three categories of property commonly stolen from vehicles:

Category 1 property

This is property that is stolen from within the vehicle that should not have been left there and includes: mobile phones; sat-navs; laptops; handbags; wallets; coins; shopping; vehicle documents, such as registration documents and anything else of value left on view.

Category 2 property

This is property that is stolen from within the vehicle that needs to be there and includes: sound systems (the installed parts, not the removable facia if it has one); insurance discs; disabled driver badges, and fuel.

Category 3 property

This is property that is stolen off the vehicle and includes: wheels; spare wheels (especially those carried in insecure cradles beneath the car); top boxes; registration (number) plates and catalytic converters (particularly from vehicles with high ground clearance, such as 4X4s).

Theft of property from vehicles can only occur if:

  • There is a motivated thief present at the scene
  • There is property, as described above, either in or on the vehicle
  • There is an opportunity to commit the theft 

We can therefore reduce our chances of becoming a victim if we minimise the availability of property worth stealing or do something to make it less attractive to the thief or more difficult to take and do something about reducing the opportunity to commit the theft.

Category 1 property in unattended vehicles 

  • If you have to keep coins in your car, keep them in a closed ashtray (if you have one) or in some other out-of-sight compartment (most cars have a little drawer somewhere).  If it is on view a desperate thief will smash a side window to get at what they want
  • Handbags, leather jackets, wallets, laptops, and shopping should never be left on view in the vehicle.  Some of this can be locked in the boot
  • A portable sat-nav should be carried on the person or left in a locked boot, together with its cradle or mat when leaving the car.  Any suction cup marks on the windscreen should be wiped away as their presence will indicate to the thief that you may have a device, such as a sat-nav, hidden in the glove compartment.  You can also purchase a sat-nav mat.  This has a weighted base, which won't slide around, with a smooth top on which you can stick the sat-nav.  This means that you won't be leaving suction cup marks on the windscreen
  • Registration documents and test certificates should be kept at home
  • Keep the inside of the vehicle tidy as an untidy vehicle containing opened mail, plastic bags etc may attract the curiosity of a thief
  • If there is nothing in the glove compartment leave it open to view
  • Remove the facia of your sound system if it has one and use the PIN facility   

Category 2 property

  • Sound systems and other in-car entertainment systems should be marked using a proprietary marking and registration system. Also keep a record of the make, model and serial numbers and other distinguishing marks. Use the warning labels supplied with the marking kit to warn thieves that the removable property in your car is marked and traceable.  You can also use the same marking kit to mark other items of property you use in the car, such as the sat-nav and mobile phone
  • Insurance discs and disabled driver badges should be stuck onto the windscreen of the car using a tamper-proof holder.  These holders bond to the surface of the insurance disc or disabled driver badge and make it impossible to alter the details, thus reducing their value to the thief to zero.  
  • Modern cars have petrol caps that lock automatically when you lock the car.  If yours d"sn’t lock when it should you’ll need to have the mechanism repaired. 

Category 3 property 

  • Wheels can be protected by using locking wheel nuts.  Most modern cars are supplied with them, but if not a decent set can be purchased for around £35 to £40.
  • Top boxes. The majority of top boxes have the rack fittings inside the box and are therefore protected by the box’s key locking mechanism.  The point here is to always keep the top box locked
  • Catalytic converters contain platinum, rhodium and palladium, which are elements of high cost and in high demand.  If your petrol engine vehicle has a high ground clearance consider having the converter chemically engraved with a proprietary marking and registration system

How to reduce the ‘opportunity’ to steal things

  • Always close the windows and sunroof and lock the doors and set the immobiliser and alarm before leaving the vehicle, even for a minute, such as when paying for petrol at a service station
  • If your vehicle d"s not have an alarm then have one fitted. 
  • Lock the doors and boot before you drive away to reduce the chances of snatch theft and robbery when stopped or in slow moving traffic
  • Although you will be breaking the law if you are using a mobile phone in your hand whilst driving a motor vehicle, you and your passengers who might be using them should be particularly aware of snatch theft and robbery when in crawling traffic or stopped at traffic lights
  • Take extra care if you are driving a convertible vehicle with the roof down.  Consider raising the windows when stationary or in slow traffic and keep the doors and boot locked
  • When parking at home use the garage if you have one or park on a well-lit driveway or hard standing, rather than in the street.  If you live in a block of flats you will have to make use of the parking facilities provided and if these are not secure enough you and your neighbours will need to approach the landlord or managing agent to ask for improvements.
  • When parking away from home try to park in a place that is well lit and overlooked. 


Motorbikes and scooters are also targets for thieves and more motorbikes and scooters are stolen than cars.  Make it difficult for them by applying some basic security techniques.

A lock for your motorbike is a must - a good disc lock or a U-lock applied correctly should always be used when you leave your motorbike unattended.

Get a combined alarm and electronic immobiliser fitted professionally and make sure you set the alarm every time you leave your motorbike.

When leaving your motorbike for prolonged periods of time, it’s a good idea to secure it to something solid. At home you can install special attachments to lock your motorbike to.

Have your motorbike marked with its vehicle identification number.

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