Car Security: Parking In Public Security Advice

During my time as a police officer, one of the most common crimes that I attended was theft from vehicles.

30 years ago, theft of a vehicle was much more common place. But with improved car security, locking systems, tracking and a better equipped polcie national database and ANPR cameras, it’s actually really difficult to steal a car and then gain from it.

Much easier nowadays, to smash a window, and steal the contents of a car.

In this article, we’ll look at car security and how to improve the security of your car when parking it in public places.

The Data

According to Statistica, nearly 90,000 cases of theft from a motor vehicle were recorded in England and Wales in the 2020/2021 reporting period.

theft from vehicle stats uk 2022

This is actually down from nearly 120,000 the previous year, but this can be explained by lockdowns and other restrictions around the pandemic.

These stats, before this data, were on a steady upward trajectory from around 2010, where up until that time it was a downward trajectory.

And this change in stats is really easy to explain; it was around 2010 where the mobile phone and portable gadget industry really started to take off, with one of the most stolen items being a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.

Leave Your Car In Showroom Condition

No, I don’t mean you should have a gleaming, polished car, all of the time. I mean the inside should be in showroom condition.

And no, I’m still not talking about cleanliness.

I’m talking about leaving your car with absolutely nothing on show – just like you would see in a showroom.

And when I say nothing, I really mean nothing.

When you first purchased your car, maybe your first look included peering into the car through the windows.

What you would’ve seen is a completely empty car. And this is what you should aim for.

car security parking in public

I vividly remember going to a car break in where the offender smashed in the side passenger window for the princely sum of £1.20. Yes, the owner had left a £1 coin and a 20p piece in the center console, on show. They smashed a window for £1.20. maybe they were hoping to find more, but the total loss was £1.20.

If the owner had just put those coins in a pocket, or hidden away, it’s quite likely that this wouldn’t have happened.

So make it best practice to leave your car as empty as possible.

This means:

  • No spare change on show anywhere in the car.
  • No jackets, coats or clothing left on show.
  • No bags, briefcases or handbags on show.
  • No sunglasses on show.
  • No wires or cables for gadgets on show.
  • No purses or wallets on show.
  • No tablets, laptops or computers on show.

This advice is golden.

Take away any temptation from career criminals or opportunist theives by removing everything on show from your car. This advice is the same as it is parking outside of your home as it is parking anywhere else.

If you need to store items in your car, then that is absolutely fine and reasonable – just don’t store the items in plain sight, utilise boot spaces or center console compartments if needed.

Park On Your Drive Or In Your Garage

There’s a reason why insurers ask where your car is parked overnight.

They know that statistics show that a car is more likely to be broken into when it is out in public (like parked on a street or public car park), than it is if it is parked on a driveway or in a garage.

Granted, not everyone has access to driveways and garages, but if you do have access to one or the other, use them.

Using your driveway or garage to park your car overnight instantly descreases the chances of suffering from a break in, and if your vehicle has a keyless entry system, you really should read all about car key blocker signal boxes.

Think About Where You Park

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a car parked on a quiet sidestreet near a town centre has a greater chance of being broken into than a car parked in a public car park.

It also doesn’t take a genius to work out that a car parked on the edge of a public car park where footfall is the least, has a greater chance of getting broken into than a car parked near doorways, entrances and exits.

Next time you park your vehicle in a public place, do have a good think on the best, most secure place to park where it’s well lit and has a high footfall of pedestrians and other cars nearby.

Don’t Leave Vehicle Documents In the Car

A lot of people have a terrible habit of keeping all car documentation in their glove box – the mindset being to keep everything together in the place it belongs.

If your car is stolen, criminals with V5 certificates and servicing documents can sell your car within a matter of hours.

They get away with it, but it leaves you with a massive headache of sorting everything out, where a buyer has bought your car ‘legitimately’.

I keep all my important vehicle documentation in a safe, and you should too.

Summary

In summary then, the biggest single thing you can do to improve the security of your car and reduce the risk of someone breaking into it is to remove every single item from view. Even if an item has no significance to you, or very little value to you, just remember that there are sections of society, for whatever reason, are desperate for money and items to sell on for money.

They wouldn’t think twice to smash a side window even if it was just for a couple of pounds (like the £1.20 break in I once attended).

If you have a driveway or garage at home to park your car, use it. If you are also concerned by the possibility of your vehicle being stolen, make the criminals think twice and use a steering wheel lock.

And when parking your car in public or public car parks, always choose a parking spot that is not hidden by walls, buildings or has poor lighting.

Even doing the most simple of things like mentioned above, can reduce the risk of of your car being broken into.

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Questions & Comments

I hope you found the article on car security useful.

If you have any questions or comments on car security and how to improve the security of your car, please use the comment bos below.

Stay Safe. Stay Secure.

(UPDATED: DECEMBER 2023)

Richard

My name is Richard.

I'm 40 years old. And I have nearly 20 years experience in various safety and security industries.

I'm here for you, sharing all my knowledge and experience to help you create a safe and secure home for you and your family.

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