Leaving for work, you step out, coffee and keys in hand. When your car is not where you remember parking it, you stand on the side of the road, scratching your head, looking up and down the street.
It’s not quite the cold sweat you break out in when you think you’ve lost your phone. Obviously misplacing something that weighs less than 10 grams seems much more reasonable than misplacing a tonne of metal and glass.
Slowly it dawns on you … Someone’s stolen your car.
And if you think that’s bad, the process that follows isn’t much fun either! So here we consider how to reduce the risk of this happening.
Firstly, what’s the likelihood of my car being stolen?
You’re probably thinking, this won’t happen to me, but according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, it could.
Their data shows motor vehicle theft in Australia increased 6 per cent in the 12 months to March 2016 to 53,110 vehicles stolen.
Short term passenger/light commercial (PLC) thefts accounted for the highest proportion of the rise (10 per cent), with profit motivated motorcycle theft also up 5 per cent.
The performance of individual jurisdictions was mixed with strong reductions in profit motivated theft in NSW and WA and increases in total thefts in VIC, QLD and WA.
The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council offers a five star rating system that shows the theft risk of vehicles in Australia, which can be accessed here https://carsafe.com.au/risk-rating. The more stars, the lower the risk.
OK, so what can I do to keep my car safe?
- Lock up – it sounds obvious, but ensure all doors, windows and sunroofs are locked before leaving your car.
- Leave nothing behind – valuables include money, clothing and handbags, luggage and electronics of any description.
- Park wisely – obviously in a garage is best, or in front of your home (consider installing a motion sensing light), otherwise choose well-lit areas with high foot traffic.
- Sound the alarm – Consider installing a car alarm and engine immobiliser. If you don’t have the budget for this, steering wheel locks are a more affordable, less noisy deterrent.
- Protect your keys – Never leave your keys in the ignition. Also never hide spare keys on your vehicle, or in obvious, easily accessible locations around the home or office.
Other vehicle security tips
- Do not leave any important documents including identification cards and papers in your vehicle.
- Secure your number plates by purchasing one way, anti-theft screws. These can be installed using a standard screwdriver, but they require a special tool to remove.
- Insure your vehicle against theft and make sure your policy is up- to-date.
- Remember many vehicle insurance policies will be void if you don’t take adequate precautions to protect your vehicle.
What should I do if my car is stolen?
- Call the police. You’ll need to file a stolen car report and the police will need all the information relating to your vehicle including make, model, year, colour, registration number and VIN number.
- Call your insurance provider. You’ll need to report the theft and confirm your policy number and level of cover. Also report any personal items that were in the car at the time
- Inform other contacts. If your wallet was in the car and contained credit cards – tsk, tsk, task! – notify your bank. If your house keys were in the car, have your locks changed, particularly if there was paperwork identifying your address in the vehicle. If you still owe money on your car, you will also need to call the finance company to report it as stolen.
What you shouldn’t do
If you’re able to pinpoint the location of your car using GPS technology, do not try to find the car on your own. It can be dangerous. Report the location to police.
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