Car theft in Stewarton, Ayrshire
How much attention do you pay to the security of your car?
Chances are, not enough. Over the last few months, there have been several car thefts in and around Stewarton, with reports that thieves are brazenly entering homes through patio doors in the early hours of the morning while families sleep, taking their keys and driving off.
This is only the tip of the iceberg – some of the most sophisticated criminal gangs working in Britain can have cars out of the country within an hour, exporting them to Africa, the far East or even the U.S. in shipping containers. This lucrative trade has attracted criminals using ever-more sophisticated methods, including a high-tech device called a “jammer” which can block the signal from an owner’s key when they attempt to lock their car. The thieves, who lie in wait in car parks, will then enter the unlocked car and use a key-programming computer to produce a duplicate key.
It is also possible to obtain keys by noting down a car’s VIN number and registration, and approaching a dealership to ask them to produce a key for the vehicle. Dealerships should ask to see paperwork, but less scrupulous dealers may not.
It may seem impossible to combat car theft with methods as sophisticated as these, but there are several steps one can take to ensure that opportunists do not take advantage.
Firstly, though it may sound obvious, ensure that your car is properly locked before leaving it, and that the windows and sunroof do not remain open. Never leave your car running, or leave the keys inside, even if you will only be out of it for a moment.
Lock patio and front doors to prevent your car keys being stolen in a burglary, and ensure that keys are stored out of sight in the house – many people leave their keys on a side table near to their front doors, making them easy targets. Install a burglar alarm or ensure burglar alarms are tested regularly (Safeguard Security Systems Scotland – 01563 523101). Police also advise never leaving a spare set of keys in your car.
Leaving your car in gear when parking can prevent it being pushed or towed away, and turning the wheels towards the kerb will also make this manoeuvre more difficult. Always apply the handbrake when parking.
If your car does not have an electronic immobiliser, you can have one fitted by a professional. Mechanical immobilisers are also a useful deterrent, adding an extra layer of security.
Finally, a tracking system that monitors the car and reports its location to the police is an excellent investment on more expensive cars. Applying these extra security methods may help to reduce insurance premiums.
Following these steps should help to ensure that Stewarton is seen as a more difficult and bothersome target area for criminals, and reduce opportunistic car theft.