How to safeguard your car against theft

One of the biggest concerns for car owners is the safety of the car against car thieves. As cars have become smarter, so have thieves and even the best of cars can be stolen by car thieves. So just how can you ensure peace-of-mind when you leave your car?

There are many ways in which you can safeguard your car against car thieves. However, no method is 100% foolproof as thieves too have gotten smarter over the years and many use hi-tech equipment to lift a car.

There is no limit to the amount of security you can put into your car short of hiring a private guard and a ferocious dog! If you park in the street or in an open space, your car is at risk.

Let’s take a look at the different types of gadgets that you can use to secure your vehicle, starting with some basic systems and moving up to more complex ones.

Steering locks

(Rs. 500 – Rs. 2,500)

steering-lock-photo

Steering locks come in various kinds. From the standard thin “hockey stick” lock that hooks between the steering wheel and the brake or clutch pedal to more complicated ones which can lock the steering and gear together. You also get locks that lock the handbrake and the gearshift together, as well as those that won’t allow the steering wheel to be turned. Good steering locks also come with non-duplicable keys.

Why this is needed? Almost all cars come with built-in steering locks with the ignition key. But these can be broken easily using some force. There are many different brands including RD and Xenos that offer these.

Gear locks

(Rs. 1,800 – Rs. 6,000)

gearlock-photo

Gear locks are one of the most effective deterrents for thieves, as they take time to disarm. Any additional delay that a thief encounters in stealing a car increases his risk, so he usually stays away from cars that have multiple security systems. Gear locks come in two types – a U-type lock and a pin-type lock. Both essentially lock the gear lever in either reverse, neutral or first depending on the kind of installation. Some models can also be used for an automatic transmission – locking it in Park. Autocop, RD and Xenos are some well-known brands in India.

Why this is needed? Gear locks come with snap-off non-reusable nuts. The metal used is also strengthened and it takes a lot of effort to break one. In many cases, the thief would need a blow torch to cut through a gear lock. Most also have non-duplicable keys.

Remote door locks (central locking)

(Rs. 3,000 – Rs. 18,000)

remote-central-locking-photo

Remote door locks or central locking is one of the most common security devices that people install in cars. Sadly the cheaper ones are rather easy to disable for a proficient thief. Many cars these days also come with keys that have a transponder in it, and won’t start unless the car’s original key is used (like Maruti’s iCATs system and Mahindra’s RFID keys). However, thieves have become smarter. They now break into vehicles to steal the ECU (electronic control unit) which controls these functions including immobilizer. When they steal a vehicle they just carry along an ECU of similar make and swap ECUs to steal a vehicle.

To prevent this, an additional layer of security is needed, with a separate remote locking system other than that supplied by the car. Having a shock sensor (which triggers the alarm if anything brushes against the car) is also a good idea. Some good alarm systems include brands like Micro VBB, Autocop, Nippon, Xenos, Minda and RD. Some systems also have ultra-sonic sensors placed inside the car that will trigger the alarm if there’s any movement in the car. A system with its own battery backup is better as it will prevent the thief from just disconnecting the battery and trying to steal the car.

Why this is needed? Visual deterrents and audio deterrents will prevent thieves from spending too much time trying to steal a car. It is worth investing in a good alarm system.

GPS and GSM tracking devices

(Rs. 8,000 – Rs. 20,000)

gps-tracker-photo

A car tracking device is a secondary safety system, and it comes in useful if your car unfortunately gets stolen. It can track the position of the car down to the exact street or even the location where the car is parked. Apart from basic vehicle security that is provided by remote locks, some of these tracking devices could also send a message (SMS) to a certain number of preset mobile numbers and some can even call a preset phone number to help locate the car. Popular brands include Phoenix, Micro VBB and Amsaki.

These devices allow you to control your car’s security using your mobile phone. GPS tracking devices will display the car’s location on a map on your computer, and also tell you parameters like time travelled, maximum speed, stoppage time and average fuel consumption. This is useful if you have a car that is used by a chauffeur – as you can keep track of its movements.

The car can also be shut down using your phone, just by sending an SMS to the car’s device. That’s helpful in case of carjacking where a robber drives away with the car. Once he’s some distance away (you can track this using a computer), and you are out of harm’s way, you can shut down the car and it locks itself, rendering it useless. Doing that in the middle of a crowded street is bound to attract attention!

In-car cameras

(Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 15,000)

in-car-camera-photo

There are dash-mounted car cameras that are available (mainly non-branded) that can record entire events taking place in front of the car. They are useful to tracking route information etc, but also useful for security. They can be set to be motion-triggered and can record instances of vandalism etc.

Number etching

(Rs. 500-Rs.1000)

Etching the car’s number on all the glasses of the car as well as on major parts make it difficult for the car thief to re-sell the car. Neatly stenciled chemical etching can be done for all the glasses of the car, and engraved etching can be done on the engine block, wheel rims, and side of the dashboard or inside door panels.

 

It’s worth investing a little extra on some hi-tech security devices to safeguard your car. Tell us what you think are the most useful devices.