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Car crime is an unfortunate fact of modern life. Although official government figures show that vehicle crime has fallen by more than half (57%) since 1995, there are still more than 2 million vehicle related thefts in the UK every year.

In order to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of car crime you should make security features a priority when buying a vehicle.

Alarms and Immobilisers

Alarms and immobilisers are one of the most effective ways of securing a car. Although most new cars are fitted as standard with an effective alarm and immobiliser, the majority of older models lack such security devices, making them easier targets for opportunist thieves and professionals.

How do they work?

Alarms work by drawing attention to anyone attempting to break into a car. Alarm types range from devices that detect when a door is opened or detect motion within the vehicle, to those that feature shock sensors which are activated when the car is hit.

Immobilisers are designed to prevent vehicles from being driven away by thieves. They work by either breaking the vehicle's ignition circuit or by linking in with the engine computer to render the vehicle undriveable.

When buying an alarm/immobiliser system it is important to ensure that they are 'Thatcham Approved'. They should also be installed by a Vehicle Systems Installation Board (VSIB) approved installer.

Other car security devices (crime deterrents)

In addition to alarms and immobilisers, you should also consider investing in other security devices for added protection. The best crime deterrents include:


Deadlocks ensure the door cannot be opened, even if the window is smashed to gain access to the interior handle. 'One- touch' deadlocks are set whenever the car is locked.

Locking wheel nuts

These are an inexpensive way of making sure your allow wheels are not stolen. Most new cars which come with alloys have locking nuts as standard, but for added security you should look to purchase locking wheel nuts with a laser-cut groove.

Etching/security marking

In order to make it hard for a thief to change the car's identity, have the vehicle registration number or serial number 'security etched' on the windscreen, or onto every window in the car. For extra security, you could opt for a traceability scheme where the glass and other parts are marked and recorded on a secure database. Future buyers can then cross-check the car's ID with the database to ensure it is not a ringer.

Laminated side-glass

Breaking this type of glass takes much more time and energy to break than standard toughened glass. The extra effort required also increases the chances of a thief getting caught in the act.

Steering locks

Steering-wheel locks are regarded as the most visual theft-deterrent device available. Most locks immobilise the steering wheel, although there are others available that secure the gear stick, handbrake or pedals. Some kits even allow you to remove the steering wheel completely.

Tracking devices

Vehicle tracking devices are one of the most effective security systems available on the market. Using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology which links to a transmitter in your vehicle, the tracking company can track your car anywhere in the world. However, the technology does not come cheap. In addition to high retail prices, the devices also come with a monthly/annual rental charge.

Remember, when searching for any security products ensure that they are Thatcham tested and approved.