Car theft is a major problem, with more than 40 cars stolen in Victoria every day. Having your car stolen can be stressful and costly, even if you do have insurance.
They way thieves steal cars have changed over time too. Cars made after the 1990s can’t be hotwired – they need the correct key to start. So thieves usually have to try and steal the owner’s keys to take their card.
Here are 10 simple tips for ways you can protect your vehicle and make it much harder for a thief to steal.
It may sound obvious, but always lock your car doors and close the windows, even when parking at home, in your garage or leaving your car for a few minutes. Unlocked cars are easy targets for thieves, so make it a habit to double-check that all doors, and the boot are always locked and windows and sun-rooves are shut tight.
Never leave your keys in your car, even if you’re running into your house or a petrol station for a few minutes. Thieves often scout for opportunities, and a car with keys in the ignition an open invitation. Keep your keys with you at all times, and never leave a spare key hidden inside the vehicle.
Never leave your car running unattended, even it’s just for a moment. While you’re quickly dashing into your home or the shop, or warming your car up on a cold morning, a thief can easily jump inside your vehicle and take off with it.
More than 50% of cars are stolen from homes, so park your car in a locked garage if possible – it’s the best way to protect your car from thieves. If you don't have a garage, try to park your car off the street in a carport or driveway, or behind a locked gate. If you need to park on the street, park in a well-lit area and make sure your car is locked.
In public, park your car in the safest spot possible – somewhere that’s well-lit, exposed and busy. Thieves are less likely to target vehicles in highly visible areas, as they don’t want to be caught. Consider parking in secure multi-level carparks, near security cameras or in areas with regular foot traffic. If you have to park in a dark area, try to park near a well-lit building or streetlight.
Invest in an anti-theft device such as an alarm system, engine immobiliser, steering wheel brake lock, a bonnet or wheel lock, an ignition shield, a battery isolator, or a GPS tracker. These devices can be effective deterrents and make it harder for thieves to steal your car. Visible anti-theft devices can deter potential thieves, while hidden ones provide an extra layer of security.
7 out of 10 cars are stolen with their own keys, so keep your keys somewhere hidden and secure. Thieves have known to grab keys from a table or hook or bench near an external door. Don’t leave keys where a thief can easily spot them from outside or grab them through an unlocked door or window. Keep all doors and windows locked and blinds closed. If you have a car with a keyless entry and start, consider keeping the fob in a special signal-blocking pouch to prevent thieves capturing and copying the signal sent between your fob and car. When at work, keep your keys on you or lock them away, rather than leave them on your desk or in your bag or backpack
Even if you park your car in your garage, it's important to always lock the garage door. Thieves can easily break into an unlocked garage and steal your car. If you have a gate across your driveway, keep it closed and locked for extra protection. If you park in a residential tower carpark, make sure the entrance door closes securely behind you without anyone sneaking in.
Thieves don’t want to be seen. Installing motion sensor lights in your garage or carport, above the garage door or along your driveway can deter thieves and help you see if someone is approaching your home or garage. Installing motion sensor security cameras, that send notifications to your phone and have two-way communication capabilities, can also help. If your vehicle is stolen, the footage may assist police to catch the thieves.
Always remove anything valuable from your car – such as cash or spare change, mobile phones, laptops, satnav devices, dash cams, sports gear, coats, bags or wallets – and take your garage remote with you. Even if they can’t steal your car, thieves may still be attracted by any valuables they can see inside or use your garage remote to access your home. So remove to remove them when you leave your car or lock them away in the boot.
Keep a record of the following details about your vehicle to provide to police or your insurance company.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.