The last year has brought unexpected and unwelcome trends in their droves. Months indoors, delays to almost all manufacture, and an uptick in car theft. Even their components specifically – the Met Police recently warned of a 50% surge in stolen catalytic converters.
The sensible thing to do is up your car’s security, but where do you start? The options on offer cover quite the scale, from the cost effective right through to a James Bond-esque suite of extras. We’ll start with the latter.
The highest level of car security could cost six times your car’s value
While we certainly don't condone the use of such extreme measures of vehicle protection, it's eye opening to see how serious some people (mostly government officials and stars of Hollywood blockbusters) are about the security of their motor.
The cheapest item alone – a ‘gunport’, which allows passengers to mount weapons inside the car and shoot outwards – costs £347 a go.
At the other end of the chart, you can get a machine gun that’s operated from within the car and springs up from a discreet tool chest in the back. One of those will set you back £67,283. A cheaper alternative is the ‘BMW Flamethrower’, a car-mounted blaster capable of two-metre flames. South African creator Charl Fourie came up with it as a means of guarding Johannesburg drivers against the threat of carjacking.
Mark Burton, CEO of vehicle security experts Armormax, said: “In terms of how far security features go, we can make virtually anything a client desires within the law. A lot of ideas for features come direct from clients – many have probably watched too many movies!
“Especially for civilians, we like to keep the approach defensive instead of offensive, but for government agencies and heads of state, the requirements are often much more substantial. Such as machine guns that are controlled from within the cabin and retract into a discreet tool chest when not being used.
“For us, however, the most affordable and one of the more effective car security features is run-flat wheels – much cheaper than some of the more ambitious products but essential for escaping a dangerous situation, especially with deflated tyres.”
Altogether, you’re looking at a whopping bill of £126,618. Going by the average cost of a UK car, roughly £20,000, that’s a potential 600% increase in total cost. Anyone for the more affordable options?
Real-world security can cost less than £500
Although car-related crime is a genuine threat, the average UK driver is unlikely to need – or be permitted – bullet-proofing or assault weaponry. The main cause for concern on our shores comes when a car’s left unattended. We’ve listed the most useful and affordable tools for tackling car theft below.
Even the most expensive item in our research, a CCTV system, costs only £249 – there are also cheaper alternatives available, but multi-camera surveillance can be a great deterrent for criminals. In the event your car is stolen, such a system can also be invaluable in identifying the offenders.
The rest of the products all come in below £50. In fact, you can buy the whole lot for less than £500. The main ones for consideration are faraday bags, which make it much harder for modern cars to be duped into unlocking by a signal interceptor, and also car trackers. If your car is stolen, these GPS devices provide real-time data on location and speed.
For motorists with older vehicles, a Thatcham immobiliser should be top of the list – one of these will prevent your car from starting if it doesn’t recognise the key being used. For only £42, less than the cost of a full tank of fuel, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Follow our tips to protect you and your car
As well as the tech mentioned above, there are also cost-free methods of protecting your car. Small changes in how and where you park, for example, could help prevent a break in or theft. With these steps, you’ll be doing your motor even more favours:
- Take valuables with you: whenever you leave your car, take all valuables with you, or at the very least put them out of sight in glove compartments and under seats. Visible mobile phones, satnavs and dashcams can gain unwanted attention.
- Look for open public spaces: when parking in public, look for open spots that are in view of CCTV, pedestrians and other road users. Bays tucked away in the corners of car parks, especially under cover of trees, could be easy targets.
- Turn your wheels towards the kerb: when parking on the street, simply turning into the kerb can buy you valuable time in deterring or identifying a thief. It means you’ll have to do a little back and forth to get out of the space, but so will a would-be burglar – those extra moments could make the difference.
- Switch the ignition off: if you’re leaving the car for any amount of time, even to run into a takeaway to collect an order, always switch the engine off and lock the doors. As well as it being an offence to leave an unattended motor running, it could be a thief’s golden ticket.
- Lock the doors: many drivers overlook the lock function while driving. Strangers could easily open the door at a traffic light and slide into the car – it’s especially important to be wary at night or in crowded spots.
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