Car crime

Tips to keep your car safe

Following 3 simple steps (leave your car locked, well-lit, and empty) will help to keep your car safe, but there are further steps you could take:

  • Store car ownership information at home, not in your car
  • Secure number plates with anti-theft screws available from car accessory stores
  • Keep your car keys out of sight in your home 
  • Use a Sold Secure approved anti-theft device on your car. You can search for suppliers on 
  • When parking in a car park, look for a ‘Park Mark’ indicating the car park meets recognised security levels 
  • Fit locking, anti-tamper wheel nuts to secure alloy wheels
  • Secure items outside of your vehicle. Anything left on roof-racks, tailgate racks, holiday top boxes or in tool chests are easily stolen when the vehicle is parked. The use of cable locks, padlocks and self-locking tools chests, which are secured to the vehicle, makes them more secure, but still, don’t leave things in them if you can avoid it.

Please print and display this poster in communal areas where you live or work.

Catalytic Converter theft

Catalytic converters are targeted because of the precious metals that they are made with, namely rhodium, platinum and palladium. Thieves simply cut the catalytic converter from the exhaust pipe of a parked car and sell them on to scrap metal dealers. Taller vehicles are more vulnerable as the catalytic converters are easier to access.

To reduce the risk of having your catalytic converter stolen you could

  1. Purchase anti-theft products such as Catloc – Sold Secure approved product (find out more about Catloc’s Secured by Design’s Police Preferred Specification here)
  2. Park to restrict access to the underneath of the car
  3. Ask your dealer to weld the catalytic converter to the car
  4. Fit a tilt alarm
  5. Register your converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of

For more information on catalytic converter theft, have a look at this BBC One Inside Out Catalytic Converter Theft video from March 2020.

Keyless car theft

Keyless car theft – also known as relay theft – is relatively simple.  With a relay amplifier and a relay transmitter, a thief can detect whether the car has keyless entry. Working in pairs they identify a house with a car parked nearby and one person stands by the car with a transmitter, while a second waves an amplifier around the perimeter of the house. If the car key is close enough the amplifier will detect its signal, amplify it, and send it to the accomplice’s transmitter.

This transmitter then effectively becomes the key, and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby. The thieves can then open the car, get in and drive away.

The whole process can take as little as 60 seconds and can be completed in near silence.


To avoid keyless car theft remember DISTANCE, SIGNAL, STEERING WHEEL.

  • KEEP KEYS A SAFE DISTANCE FROM THE CAR: Keeping keys far away from doors and windows. This will minimise the chances a thief will be able to find and amplify the key’s signal and is general good practice.
  • BLOCK  OR TURN OFF THE SIGNAL: Consider purchasing a Faraday pouch to keep your car key in. These pouches contain signal-blocking materials that stop your key transmitting its code, preventing crooks from being able to detect and amplify the signal. Check your manual or speak to your dealer to find out if your key can be switched off
  • STEERING WHEELOCK: Consider using a steering wheel lock, a driveway parking post, or even a wheel clamp

For more information and further tips look at this ‘Keyless could be Carless’ information sheet from West Yorkshire Police

Blue badge theft

Thieves break into a car to steal blue badges and sell them.

  • Take your blue badge with you when you leave your car parked for longer periods
  • get a device that locks your blue badge onto the steering wheel.

See supporting document

1. Park in well-used and brighter locations

Vehicles parked in dark and less busy areas are more liable to be damaged or broken into because the suspect cannot easily be seen by anyone; it’s always advisable to park somewhere that’s well lit and where people are walking and there is likely to be passing traffic. The busier the better, as a rule.

What’s more, if your car stands out as being, say, more expensive than others in the area, it could be a target. That’s when it’s worth considering parking somewhere where your car is likely to be safer. It might not always mean the shortest or most convenient route back to it, but it could help prevent damage to your vehicle. Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Hide your stuff away

Leaving items like iPads, mobiles and laptops in plain view is asking for trouble. If you can’t take it with you, then hide it. The same goes for bags and clothing.

As for sat navs, it’s good to hide the device and the rubber suction cup that sticks to the windscreen, but don’t forget to check if there’s a mark on the glass that gives away the fact that you have one on board.

3. Protect your windows

Consider using clear security film. It really does strengthen the glass and leave minimum damage if someone tries to smash their way into your vehicle.

4. Pick your car park carefully

The Safer Parking Scheme is a national standard that benchmarks the safety and security of car parks. A ‘Park Mark’ means the site has been assessed and vetted by the police.

Check out the Park Mark website for more information and to find ‘marked’ car parks.

5. Make space

If possible, when you park, try to leave some space between your car and other cars. It not only prevents accidental damage, it also means thieves or vandals are more likely to be seen.

Your checklist

When you park your vehicle, just follow these simple tips:

  • close your sunroof
  • check you haven’t left your keys in the ignition
  • don’t keep your log book in the car
  • double-check your central locking has actually locked – listen for the clunk/click noise (if you’ve got keyless then look through the window to check)
  • don’t leave your car with the engine running
  • don’t leave anything of value in the car

Report it

Most people fail to report criminal damage or vandalism to their vehicle but, if it ever happens to you, we urge you to report it immediately. You can report a crime online.