Ten easy ways to safeguard your car

Two in five car owners appear to not think twice about leaving their car keys with a stranger, despite the potential security risk, according to the results of a YouGov consumer survey.

The survey found that in the past 12 months, 43% of drivers have left their car keys with someone they don’t know, with 71% of them not checking whether the company or individual was a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional standard. In comparison, just 11% said they have trusted their house keys to a stranger.

Meanwhile, just 11% of people said the first thing they look for in a car park is CCTV, gated entry or manned barriers. At home, respondents admitted to leaving their car keys in clear view or close to the front door on a hallway hook or sideboard, leaving them at risk of opportunistic thieves.

Alongside the results of the survey, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, Home Office, Metropolitan Police Service and Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, have published a ten-point plan to help owners secure their cars.

1. Think about who you leave your vehicle keys with. Treat them as you do your house keys – do you know the person you are leaving your keys with? Do you trust them?

2. Check who you are leaving your vehicle keys with. Where possible, check that a company you entrust your keys to is a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional standard such as Motor Codes (motorcodes.co.uk); the British Parking Association’s Park Mark scheme (parkmark.co.uk); or the Car Wash Advisory Service’s WashMark initiative (carwashadvisoryservice.co.uk).

3. Think about where you park your vehicle – is it in a safe place? Well-lit and well-populated areas or car parks with CCTV, manned barriers or gated entry will give you greater peace of mind.

4. Check that your vehicle is locked before leaving it. Listen for the locking noise, watch for the lights to flash or mirrors to fold, or simply pull the door handle.

5. Think about where you leave your spare key. Don’t leave it in your vehicle, and be mindful of how many spares you have and where they are kept.

6. Check that you haven't left valuables on display in your vehicle. We all know this can attract opportunist thieves.

7. Check that the vehicle’s windows are closed, even if you are only leaving it for a few minutes. Open windows make it all the easier for thieves to gain access.

8. Think about where you keep your keys at home. Keep them well away from the door or windows and out of sight.

9. Check that your alarm or immobiliser is enabled when you leave your car. A simple check could save considerable expense and inconvenience later.

10. Check whether your vehicle has an alarm or immobiliser. If it doesn't, think about buying an aftermarket alarm, steering wheel lock or other locking device. These are proven to deter thieves.

“New cars have never been more secure and new technology has helped bring down vehicle theft dramatically,” Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s Chief Executive, said. “The latest models include sophisticated immobilisers, smartphone-controlled tracking devices and random key codes to prevent cloning. Technology can only do so much, however and while car makers, the police and government continue to work together to ensure that stealing cars is as difficult as possible, these latest figures show there’s more consumers can do to minimise risk.”