I’m PC Amanda Harvey and I work alongside the local community officers for Stewartby and Wootton, amongst other areas.
A key part of what we do as local community officers is respond to what our communities tell us are the things that matter to them.
Over the past two months we have been working to tackling vehicle crime, based on the feedback from people we have had in your community.
Below are some key tips to keep your vehicle safe.
1. Lock your vehicle
Locking your vehicle, even when filling up or parked on your drive, greatly reduces the possibility of it being targeted by an opportunist thief. Even if you have locked your vehicle, check you haven’t left any windows or the sunroof open.
It is actually illegal to leave your vehicle running unattended while you de-ice it or warm it up in cold weather. If someone takes it while it’s left like this, your insurer won’t pay out because you won’t be covered.
If your vehicle has wing mirrors that fold in automatically when locked, make sure you lock it properly. Criminal gangs are looking for vehicles like these where the wing mirrors are still out because it is clear to them that the vehicle has been left unlocked.
2. Keep the keys safe
Vehicles today are by and large more difficult to steal than ever, unless the thief can access your key or fob to clone them. Keep your keys safe, out of view when at home, and away from your front door. It’s not uncommon for car keys to be stolen from inside your home by thieves fishing for them with a stick and hook through the letterbox.
When not in use, keep your electronic car key in a security pouch to prevent it being scanned by thieves to open and steal your car nearby.
3. Be aware of carjackers
The fact that you’re in the car isn’t always a deterrent to someone trying to steal it.
In traffic, drive with the doors locked and when queuing leave enough space in front of your vehicle to enable you to get out of a tight spot.
If your vehicle is bumped from behind, wait to pull over – somewhere safe and preferably where there are people. After all, you don’t know the person who has collided with you; they could well be hijackers. If you’re at all suspicious, consider calling the police.
If someone threatens you, it’s better to hand over the keys to the vehicle than become a victim of assault. Then call 999 as soon as possible, and ask for the police.
If your car is stolen, some modern vehicle alarm and tracker systems have the facility to isolate or shut down fuel systems, bringing the vehicle to a halt and leaving the thief high and dry.
4. Park responsibly
It’s always advisable to avoid parking in dark and secluded areas. It’s worth an extra five or ten-minute walk if it means your vehicle is left in a well-lit and busier street.
And if possible, always try to park in illuminated and staffed car parks or those with a Park Mark safer parking award. To find one, simply check out Park Mark.
5. Before owning, check for cloning
Changing the identity of a vehicle, known as vehicle cloning, can be as simple as adding stolen number plates. When buying a vehicle, always check the DVLA V5 document and make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the vehicle is the same as on the document.
Make sure you check more than one of the VINs as well as the engine numbers on the vehicle.
We always want to hear feedback from our residents. We will be reviewing our priorities at the end of September, and want to hear what your priorities and what matters to you.
You can fill out this survey to have your say and we will make sure we consider all of these responses when we next set our priorities.
PC 245 Amanda Harvey