Smash and grab thefts from vehicles are unfortunately common in the UK. Opportunistic thieves will break car windows with a heavy blunt instrument, and reach in to steal valuables left inside. Sometimes, they will even take low-worth items such as shopping bags, coats, and car parking change.
The crime can even take place when the car is occupied, and the driver has stopped at traffic lights with a bag or wallet placed beside them on the driver’s seat. More typically however, thieves will target empty vehicles at quiet times of day or night. Here are some tips to reduce the chances of a break-in.
1. Don’t leave any items on display
Take with you, or at least remove from view, any obviously valuable items such as wallets, handbags, purses, laptops, phones, and any other gadgets. Thieves will target even petty items, so put that old coat in the boot, and don’t leave a spare change pot for parking tickets on view. The fewer loose items that are on display, the less temptation there is.
2. Park carefully
Try to avoid parking in poorly lit, secluded areas, as thieves will take advantage of the lack of witnesses. Choose car parks with CCTV surveillance, or busy side streets, which are well illuminated at night and have high pedestrian footfall.
If you leave your vehicle on a driveway overnight, consider installing motion sensor lights to deter any potential thieves. Where a garage is available, be sure to put your car inside overnight.
3. Lock up
This might sound obvious, but double check you have locked your vehicle as you leave, and that all the windows and the sunroof are closed. If you have an additional security system, such as alarms, double locks, and pressure sensors, make sure these are activated. Never be tempted to leave keys in the car, even if you are just popping into your house for a minute.
4. Stay alert
If you are driving in a long queue of traffic, especially after a long day at work, it is easy to tune out and let your mind wander to other things. You may even have placed your mobile on the driver’s seat if the traffic is stationary, to change the music or check your messages. However, this is an ideal chance for an opportunistic thief to take advantage.
Instead, keep your phone tucked out of sight, and remain alert to what is going on around you. Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front to allow you to make a manoeuvre, should you spot anything suspicious.
5. Park vans defensively
If you have a van with half-glazed rear doors, and you store valuable tools or freight in the back, try and park close up against a wall to make access more difficult. Also display prominent signs which let potential thieves know that no tools are stored in the vehicle overnight.
If you do have to leave tools in your van, consider installing strong lockable boxes which are fixed to the floor.
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