How to prevent your car being stolen by ram-raiders

It’s relatively easy to discourage car thieves from stealing your car, say the car review website Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says ram raiders usually target cars that are easily to steal, such as cheaper versions of the Toyota Aqua, Nissan Tiida, Mazda Demio and Mazda Atenza. 

“Thieves love small, older Japanese secondhand imports. Car thefts are rare in Japan, so cars like the Mazda Demio don’t have much protection from theft and are easy to start without a key. Car thieves share this information on social media.”

Matthew-Wilson has a motto for owners wishing to avoid car theft: “Display, delay and annoy.”

“Thieves tend to avoid cars in well-lit, public places. Thieves prefer dark, private places, where they have more time to attack your vehicle without being noticed. So, park your car under a light where it can be easily seen by many people.” 

“If your car is parked in the driveway at home, make sure there’s a security light. It’s also worth locking a chain across your driveway. A chain won’t stop a determined car thief, but most car thieves are lazy. If you make your car a bit harder to steal, thieves will probably go somewhere else."

“A locked car won’t stop a thief; he’s simply going to smash your window. Smashed windows will be costly to fix, so if you own a cheap car, it may be smarter to remove your valuables and simply leave the car unlocked. But if your car is insured, check first that your insurance company is still going to pay out if your car is stolen or damaged while it’s unlocked.”

“Install an alarm with the siren pointed inside, not outside, your vehicle. You can get a DIY alarm for $30 and install it yourself. The loud alarm siren will blast anyone who climbs into the vehicle. Sitting inside a vehicle with a blasting alarm is not pleasant and draws attention to the thief.”

Matthew-Wilson also advises owners of vulnerable cars to fit a ‘kill switch’.  A kill switch is a hidden switch, operated by the driver, which cuts off the power that the vehicle needs to start. So, the thief can still break into your car, but he won’t be able to get the car started quickly.  

"Kill switches are highly effective, but it pays to have them installed by an auto electrician to make sure the switch works properly.”

Matthew-Wilson says steering locks that fit over the steering wheel are of limited value, because thieves often simply cut through one side of the steering wheel with a hacksaw and remove the lock. However, says Matthew-Wilson, “Any steering lock will delay the thief and may be noisy to remove, so these locks are a lot better than nothing.” 

“Time is the enemy of car thieves. The longer the thief is delayed, the greater the chance he’ll be seen and caught. That’s why any strategy to delay a thief, such as a chain across your driveway, can be a highly effective deterrent."

Matthew-Wilson has further advice for people going away on holiday and leaving a vehicle parked in a driveway:  

“If your vehicle has ordinary locks that can be opened with a key, get a mechanic to remove the vehicle’s battery. Without a battery, a vehicle can’t be driven; it’s as simple as that. Don’t try this on a car that can only be unlocked by an alarm remote, because without a battery you’re not going to be able to unlock the car when you get home. Also, be cautious removing the battery yourself, because the vehicle’s computers will be reset when you reconnect the battery, which could cause minor problems.”