AA CAR CARE: Don’t let your car be a stolen stat
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Police statistics show that humble small cars like the Mazda Demio and Nissan Tiida are also some of the most stolen in NZ’s biggest city, Auckland.
‘Why these cars?’ you might ask. To put it simply, it’s because they’re Japanese domestic import vehicles that are much less likely to have security measures such as an immobiliser or alarm fitted from factory.
These cars are probably taken as an opportunist’s mode of transport, either to joyride across town or to use in committing further crime. The police have also spoken about a craze which sees youths stealing Mazda Demio models and putting footage of them doing so on social media sites like Snapchat and TikTok.
In days gone by, it was common to book your vehicle into an auto electrician and get an alarm installed with central locking and multiple immobilisers, for upwards of $500.
However, there are now several affordable DIY options available that help make your car appear less of a target, harder to steal - or easier to track down should it ever go missing. These technologies are perfect for older cars.
Steering wheel locks ($30-$80)
These have been around for decades and offer a good visual deterrent to potential thieves.
There are two main styles of steering wheel lock. The most popular has a protruding arm to prevent the steering wheel from turning without clashing on the windscreen or dashboard.
The other style is particularly popular with larger cars and is attached to the steering wheel and brake pedal, preventing either from being operated.
False alarm ($15-$20)
If you can’t afford a genuine security system, another visual deterrent is to have the appearance of one. We found solar-powered flashing LED light units that mimic an alarm light on the dashboard; they can be attached with a simple adhesive strip.
GPS car trackers ($30-$200)
GPS car trackers have become popular as an additional security measure; they’re easy to install and provide real-time location tracking.
The more affordable trackers usually need to be powered via a USB power source. If required, you can buy an adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter socket.
Some trackers use the more inconspicuous OBD-II diagnostic socket (available in most cars built from 1996) as a power source, and may also have built-in battery back-ups to ensure a signal continues to transmit a car’s location even after the ignition has been turned off.
Higher-end models can even monitor speed and listen to what’s going on in the car remotely. The owners can then review this information through a smartphone app or online, and police can use the information to track down the car.
Wheel clamps ($60-$180)
Wheel clamps are an extreme measure; but if you own a car solely to tow a boat or trailer and it’s often left idle, then it could make sense.
They aren’t fool proof because some clamps allow for the wheel to be removed, so make sure you have a clamp with a security disc which covers the entire wheel.
Stick to the basics
Most new cars have smart keys with chips built-in that allow keyless entry, pushbutton start and act as an immobiliser, because they need to be present in the vehicle for the engine to start. But here are some simple precautions to keep in mind.
- Keep the car locked and windows closed - Door locks are the most vital theft deterrent system you have. Similarly, keep windows fully closed when the car is unattended.
- Don’t leave keys inside the car –It might sound obvious, but there’s nothing more attractive to a car thief than seeing the keys already inside.
- Hide valuables - Keeping valuable items such as computers, smart devices, wallets and jewellery in your car is risky.
- Park sensibly – If you have a driveway or garage, use it. Cars are much more likely to be stolen if they are on the street or in a public car park. If you don’t have off-street parking, try to park in a well-lit area.