4 ways to prevent car theft - Keep your vehicle safe

14 September 2016
Motor vehicle theft; it’s one of those things that happens to other people isn’t it? You keep your car locked and secure, so there’s no way it’ll ever get nicked right? If that’s what you think, you might be wrong.

The numbers on car theft in Australia

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as part of their most recent release on Recorded Crime in Australia have found that motor vehicle theft is increasing in certain parts of the country. The release reports that five of Australia’s eight states and territories experienced a positive percentage change in the number of motor vehicle thefts, as follows:

  • Victoria: 5%
  • Queensland: 8%
  • Western Australia: 3%
  • Tasmania: 8%
  • ACT: 7%

The states that experienced a negative percentage change in the number of motor vehicle thefts were:

  • NSW: -7.6%
  • South Australia: -3.1%
  • Northern Territory: -10.2%

However these figures don’t quite tell the full story. While we’re currently seeing a 6% increase in overall vehicle theft rates from last year, the same overall rate has actually decreased by 8% over the last four years according to the Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (MVTRC). So to put it simply, despite a short-term increase, we’re seeing an overall trend of reducing numbers of stolen vehicles, which is relieving news for all car owners.

How does Australia’s vehicle theft landscape look now compared to 15 years ago? See our latest Theft Matters https://t.co/kmeXQgubJL

But don’t let that 8% decrease lull you into a false sense of security. While you might think that your car’s nice and safe in your garage, you definitely still need to protect your car from theft. While the right insurance cover can help to compensate for the loss if you are one of the unlucky victims of car theft, some car theft prevention measures can reduce your chance of suffering loss in the first place.

How to protect your car from theft

If you’re suddenly feeling a little antsy about your car’s safety, here are some tips you can use to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of car theft. There’s no one best way to prevent car theft, but you can implement as many of the following tips as possible to reduce the chances of your car being nicked, courtesy of the MVTRC.

Secure your vehicle

There’s a number of different ways you can make your vehicle incredibly hard, if not downright impossible to steal in the event of it being broken into. Firstly, if you own an older vehicle you should fit it with an Australian-standards approved engine immobiliser – they tend to rank rather highly on lists of best ways to prevent car theft, and can be fitted from as little as $220.

If your car was manufactured after 2001 however, your car will have come with an immobiliser, which makes things decidedly easier for you.

Secondly, you can purchase some good ol’ car theft prevention hardware: this could come in the form of a steering wheel lock, a heavy-duty piece of metal which clamps down onto your car’s steering wheel, making it impossible to move, and subsequently impossible to drive your car. They’re fitted and unlocked via a set of keys, so unless your car thief comes equipped with an industrial-strength steel cutter there’s no way they’re making off with your car.

Protect your car keys

As we mentioned, it’s mandatory for all vehicles manufactured after 2001 to be fitted with an engine immobiliser, which means that modern cars can’t be hotwired like you see so often in the movies. However this means that thieves have to resort to other means in order to nick your car, and breaking into your home is one of them. This means that protecting your keys is one of the best ways to prevent car theft.

According to the MVTRC, theft of vehicles from residences is on the increase and this is linked to an increase in key theft. This increase in key theft is a result of newer cars being hard, if not impossible to steal without actually having the keys to the vehicle in question.

Consider where you’re parking

There’s a reason why car insurance might cost less if you can tell the insurer that your car won’t be on the street; it’s generally seen to be much safer! If you have the luxury of being able to park your car off the street, then do it! If you can park your vehicle behind locked gates or inside a garage then your car is in the safest possible location it can be, and you can rest just that little bit easier at night. However, that being said, having your car in a driveway or car port is still exponentially better than having it on the street, both in terms of safety and your car’s overall condition.

The MVTRC notes that when it comes to the risk of your vehicle being stolen from your home, the most effective vehicle theft prevention measures were found to be:

When it comes to parking in shopping centres, you’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons of different parking choices. Parking close to other cars puts your car at risk for damage to the bodywork through bumps and scratches from less experienced drivers. And on the flip side, you could park in a more isolated part of the car park, but that makes your vehicle a more tempting target for any thieves strolling through the carpark.

Also of interest is the fact that you may be more at risk of car theft depending on which city and state you live in; this map illustrates the car theft capitals of Australia, along with the percentage of car theft in Australia each state is responsible for.

Remove temptation

This one’s more about preventing potential thieves from breaking into your car in the first place, but it’s still a solid car theft prevention measure. If a thief can see something they fancy the look of through your car windows, it’s entirely likely that they’ll break into your car to nab it. The solution to this problem? Make sure those with wandering eyes can’t spot anything they like the look of in the first place and save yourself the headache of making an insurance claim!

Remove any and all valuables from your car when you’re not in it – never leave items such as mobile phones, laptops/tablets, bags, sunglasses or other valuables insight in an unattended vehicle. If you have a portable navigation device or a dashcam, be sure to remove both the unit and the suction mark from the windscreen; those things can be pricy!

Make sure you’ve got the right car insurance, and know what you’re covered for

This one won’t protect your car from theft, but in the case that your car is stolen and can’t be recovered you’ll either be relieved that you have the right car insurance or crying because you don’t. Make sure that you’re familiar with the different kinds of car insurance, and figure out which one’s best for you before your car gets stolen, rather than after.

A thief taking an interest in your vehicle can lead to a number of things, from a broken window and stolen goods, to your entire car going missing. Either way, a good-value insurance policy is also a must, even if you’ve pulled out all the stops when it comes to vehicle theft prevention. Canstar have shadow-shopped thousands of quotes across 63 different policies from 53 insurers to determine the car insurers offering outstanding value. Click here to view our car insurance star ratings report.

If you’re considering car insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old male seeking cover in NSW without cover for an extra driver under 25. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the providers’ website. Use Canstar’s car insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.