5 tips for keeping your car where you left it

South Africa has a massive car theft problem, and it’s not getting any better. According to SA Police Service’s crime statistics, more than 9,600 vehicles and motorbikes were stolen in the second quarter of 2022 alone. That translates to a theft every 13 minutes!

Part of the problem is that thieves are getting increasingly tech-savvy. They’re even using smart keys and intercepting key signals. So, how do you protect yourself from becoming a victim of car theft? Wynand van Vuuren, the client experience partner at King Price Insurance, has 5 things you can do to help prevent your car being stolen.

Park your car in a safe place

Where you park your car is one of the biggest factors in keeping your wheels safe, says Van Vuuren. If you have to park in public, choose a well-lit and busy area, with plenty of pedestrian activity. At home, install a motion detector light if you park your car in the driveway overnight – thieves prefer to work in the dark. You could even consider installing CCTV to watch over your wheels.

Make sure you have an alarm and a tracker

Most modern cars come with an alarm system and immobiliser installed. That’s a good start, because the noise of an alarm may chase off a potential thief. “Any visible device, like an old-school steering wheel lock or an alarm system's flashing light, could also deter a car thief,” says Van Vuuren. “And a tracking device won’t prevent your car from being stolen, but it can certainly improve your chances of recovering it.”

Make your car less appealing to thieves

A sure-fire way to attract a thief is to leave your wallet or cellphone where someone can see it. If you carry valuables, like laptops and even bags of shopping, lock them out of sight in the boot. You shouldn’t even leave loose change in your centre console, says Van Vuuren.

Keep your signals to yourself

If your car allows keyless access, get yourself a secure Faraday pouch (also known as a fob guard) to store your key. It’s lined with metallic material that helps block key fob signals, thereby preventing criminals from intercepting the signal and opening the car easily when you’re gone. Or you could just deactivate the keyless function, says Van Vuuren.

Stay alert

Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If you think you’re being followed, don’t turn into your driveway. Drive to a police station or a safe place. And keep your windows up when you’re stopped at an intersection.

“And finally, it’s always advisable to have your car insured. Nobody likes paying insurance premiums – but insurance will quickly be your best friend if your car is stolen, and you need to replace it. Ask yourself: Could I cover the financial loss if my car is stolen tomorrow? If the answer is no, get insurance,” said Van Vuuren.