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Car Theft: Prevention Tips and Tricks

man at empty parking space has been a victim of car theft

Car theft isn’t always what you’d imagine it to be. Vehicles aren’t only stolen when they’re broken into or hotwired. In fact, taking car keys and driving off just as the rightful owner would is becoming one of the more common ways of stealing a car.

In fact, around three quarters of all cars stolen in Australia (which happens every 12 minutes) are done so from outside their home. Scary, right?

So it makes sense to focus more on preventing business car theft via keeping your keys in a safe place. This way, if a thief breaks into your office, jobsite or home, they won’t be able to grab your keys and make a quick escape in your car.

We know how important it is to have a reliable business vehicle. As a building inspector or pest control specialist, you probably rely on your car to do your work every day. It’s absolutely crucial for your business. (Just as the best apps to help you work on the go are – anything to make things more efficient, right?)

Here are some tips to help prevent car theft when you’re at home, on-site visits, at meetings, or in the office.

Don’t let your guard down

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re unwinding, ready to start the week anew on Monday. You decide on a quick takeout and an early night. But when you go to grab your keys, you can’t find them. They’re not by the door where you usually keep them. They’re not in your bag or your pocket.

You head outside to see if maybe, just maybe, you left them in your car. Only to see the car itself isn’t even there.

If you’re reading this thinking it sounds farfetched, think again. These situations can and do happen.  Data shows most car thieves are opportunistic. This is, they take advantage of targets such as older cars they can hotwire and cars where the keys might be accessible. Like in easy to reach spots, such as hanging at the door or sitting in a bowl near a window.

Despite this, the NMVTRC has found over 40% of Australians don’t keep their car keys somewhere safe. Crazy, right? Convinced you need to take car theft (or should that be car key theft?) seriously yet? Here’s what you can do to safeguard your car.

What can you do to prevent car theft?

First things first: don’t leave the keys in the ignition. Even if you’re just popping in somewhere. It’s asking for trouble.

Also know that everyone in your office, jobsite and home should be closing windows and locking doors. Keeping your car keys away from opportunistic thieves is the first priority. That means keeping them somewhere safe, such as:

  • In a lockable safe which is secured to a wall or floor.
  • In a lockable drawer or cupboard.
  • With you. Keeping your keys on you, even when you’re out and about without your car, is a good idea. Just make sure to keep them safe and don’t lose them at the pub!
  • Anywhere away from doors and windows, out of sight.

And remember, don’t leave car keys lying on the table while you’re at a meeting, out at a restaurant, or meeting people on-site. It’s too easy for them to be snatched off a work surface or table.

Keep them out of sight and reach at all times. Basically, treat your car keys with the same caution you treat any other valuable, like your phone or work tablet (which has the Rapid Inspect app installed, right?).

Leaving your car keys hanging by the door makes you more vulnerable to car theft

Extra precautions in the home

Ok, so you know where to keep your keys. And where not to. What else can you do to prevent car theft?

  • Keep the garage locked.
  • Don’t let potential thieves know you’re away/absent. If you work away from home often doing inspections or similar, get a house sitter or have someone collect mail, turn lights on occasionally, and keep up the appearance of you being at home.
  • Make friends with the office and home neighbours. They’ll let you know if anything seems amiss.
  • Keep valuables out of sight.
  • Get a dog. A barking dog is enough of a deterrent for most opportunistic thieves.
  • Keep the exterior/driveway of your office and home lit at night. Or use motion sensor lights to illuminate the paths they might take to the doors and windows.

All of these make it harder for an opportunistic thief to make a quick getaway with your car without being noticed. They’re not foolproof, but certainly make your office and home less of an easy target.

Be careful on social media

Are you known to head out of town for your termite treatments, building inspections, or other pest control activities? Or perhaps you’re even thinking of taking a well-deserved weekend off from work and going away.

Be careful about sharing info online that makes it clear your home and office will be empty or your car will be unmonitored for certain periods of time. After all, if you’ve let everyone know you’re away, it’s not too hard for a thief to check whether your keys are easily accessible.

It might sound paranoid, but better safe than sorry.

Be smart about your business car

Seeing as we’re talking business cars, do you know about the business car finance options on the market? Or whether you can claim tax deductions for your business on all those hours spent on the road?

And remember to insure your car against theft

Be careful about sharing info online that makes it clear your home and office will be empty or your car will be unmonitored for certain periods of time. After all, if you’ve let everyone know you’re away, it’s not too hard for a thief to check whether your keys are easily accessible.

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