car-theft

The UK’s top car theft spots revealed – and how to beat car thieves

Discover which cars are most at risk and how to beat the burglar

Gareth Herincx

London has been named as the car crime hotspot of the UK – with Lambeth as the UK’s top car theft hotspot.

Co-op Insurance has carried out an extensive four-year study based on actual claims and the south London borough is the UK’s top car theft hotspot, while the Ford Fiesta is targeted by thieves more than any other model.

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Nine out of the top 10 car theft postcodes are located in London, including Lambeth, Kensington and Chelsea, Ealing Southwark, Lewisham and Wandsworth. Greenwich, Hounslow and Westminster also made the list.

cars-parked

The royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea was named as number two on the UK's car theft hotspot list

Key areas outside the capital include Watford, Slough and Preston. Meanwhile, drivers living in Moray, Scotland, can rest easy knowing it had the least frequency of vehicle theft claims in four years. In England, Mid-Devon is the lowest on the list, and for Wales, it’s Denbighshire.

The study also exposed the makes and models of cars most targeted by criminals, with popular family cars topping the list. Based on the number of claims over four years, the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa are in first, second and third place respectively.

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“Whether our cars are parked on the driveway or in an urban car park, they are vulnerable to car thieves who are becoming increasingly well organised in targeting the vehicles on their wish list," said TV consumer champion and former car dealer, Dominic Littlewood.

"And don’t think it won’t happen to you, cheaper makes and models are becoming more attractive than ever to thieves. It’s also important to get the right car insurance in place so if the worst does happen, you’ll get the money to buy another car quickly and conveniently.”

dominic-littlewood

TV star Dominic Littlewood

10 ways to beat car thieves

1. Think before you park: if your car’s not at home, park it in a well-lit area, near to people and other cars and somewhere where it can easily be seen, preferably monitored by CCTV or a security patrol.

2. Wheels at an angle: when parking on the street, make sure your car wheels are facing the kerb (unless parking up hill on a hill). This means that anyone trying to speed off in your car will have to release the steering wheel lock first. It also helps eliminate the chance of a thief towing or pushing your car away to a quieter spot.

3. Invest in deterrents: something as simple as a visible steering lock can really put a car thief off. If you don’t have one fitted, consider adding a car alarm, immobiliser, tracking device or dash cam.

4. Doors to manual: you might think that by clicking your key fob, your car has automatically been locked but increasingly inexpensive remote control jamming technology can be purchased on line which blocks signals to your car meaning you are actually leaving it completely unlocked and not alarmed.

The only way to ensure it has worked is by manually checking the doors and boot before you walk away.

5. Avoid temptation: never leave enticing objects such as bags, clothes, portable sat navs, designer sunglasses, loose change or mobile phones on display. This could prompt an opportunistic thief to smash a window and take your belongings. Ensure your car looks empty and free from expensive items.

6. Switch off your engine: don’t leave your car running whilst you nip off to run an errand – you’re making it too easy for car thieves to take advantage of an empty driving seat.

7. Petrol stations: If no one is sitting in your car, lock it as you go to pay for your petrol otherwise this gives a thief an ideal opportunity to strike.

8. Be surroundings aware: to avoid being a victim of carjacking, when in slow moving traffic or a traffic jam lock your windows and doors, place valuables out of sight and remain alert, especially if travelling at night or driving a convertible.

9. Keyless threat: A keyless-entry system makes life easy because you can get into your car and start it without having to fumble in your pocket for a key.

However, thieves have worked out how a hi-tech way to trick your vehicle into thinking your keys are physically present. Some key fobs can be switched off, meaning their signals can't be hijacked, but the best way to avoid keyless car theft is to invest in a Faraday pouch which can block a key's radio waves.

10. Fake tow trucks: Thieves often attempt to lift vehicles from the street - literally. So, if you see a towaway crew acting suspiciously – especially if their vehicle isn’t branded or if they’re not in uniform – then report it to the police immediately.

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