With all of the money that we invest in our cars these days - from the initial purchase to taxing and maintaining - the last thing we want is for them to be damaged or stolen. Of course, the right car insurance can give you peace of mind, but there's no harm in taking extra measures to protect your car from break-ins and theft. These car security tips show some of the measures you can take, with certain precautions that could potentially reduce your insurance premium.
It sounds obvious, but many thefts each year only occur because the driver forgot to lock the vehicle. Even if you're leaving the car for a short time, try the handle before you walk away to make sure you've locked it properly, and also check that the windows and sunroof are closed. Some cars these days feature double locking, giving added protection. Look for confirmation, such as flashing lights, if you're locking the car remotely.
This is another simple measure, but the statistics for thieves obtaining car keys by breaking into the owner's house is alarmingly high - usually because they are stored in an obvious place. Even placing them on a table by the front door is risky, as thieves have been known to use a coat hanger through the letter box to lift them away.
These two security measures are a common feature on cars nowadays. The noise the alarm makes will act as the first deterrent, and if the thief persists the immobiliser will prevent the car from being driven without the proper key. Some insurance companies will recognise certain types of alarm and immobiliser, and if they are fitted this could see a reduction in your premium.
The most high-tech development is a tracking system, which can be fitted discreetly in the car by a specialist. Should the car be stolen, the vehicle can then be monitored via GPS by the owner and also the police. Many tracking systems will keep tabs on the vehicle even if it is taken abroad. Ask your insurance company which devices they recognise.
If your budget does not quite stretch to a tracking system, or at the very least a more sophisticated alarm and immobiliser, a metal locking device placed over the steering wheel should help. Versions for the gearstick and handbrake are available too, often painted bright yellow and sometimes with flashing lights, to serve as a visual deterrent.
To stop your wheels being stolen - an added concern if you have a set of expensive alloys - be sure to invest in locking wheel nuts. These require a special key in order to remove them, but remember not to keep this in the glove box, as it is the first place thieves will look.
One of the easiest, most economical car security tips is to write your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on various parts of the vehicle, such as under the bonnet or boot, using an ultra-violet pen. You can usually find your VIN on the dashboard on the driver's side, and having it written in several places will make your car easier to recover should it be stolen. You could also try 'etching', which involves ingraining the number on windows, headlights and mirrors by a specialist.
A thief is more likely to break into a car if it looks like there is something to steal - leaving bags, coats or electronic devices lying around inside is sure to attract attention. Wipe any suction marks left by a satnav off the windscreen and lock any valuables away in the boot, as a sparse interior works as a deterrent, as does leaving the glove box open to show there is nothing hidden.