The keys to car security

Nearly half of drivers would happily leave their car keys with a stranger, despite the obvious risks.

This is the shock result of a survey conducted by YouGov, which found that in the past 12 months, 43% of British drivers have left their keys with someone they don’t know, with 71% of them not checking whether the company or individual was a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional standard.

In comparison, just 11% said they have trusted their house keys to a stranger.

Although car theft is significantly lower than in the mid 1990s, reported incidents rose by 8% in the year to March 2016. In response, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Home Office, Metropolitan Police Service and Thatcham Research are publishing a 10-point plan to help owners secure their cars to help beat the thieves.

Sarah Newton, minister for safeguarding, vulnerability and countering extremism, said, ‘With thefts significantly lower than they were 20 years ago and manufacturers using the latest technology to make our cars safer than ever, the public would be forgiven for putting vehicle crime to the back of their minds. But the recent rise in the number of reported crimes is a reminder that determined thieves are still out there and we should remain vigilant.

‘It is important that we all understand this increase, the changing nature of vehicle crime and the steps that can be taken to prevent further increases in these crimes. For many of us, leaving our car keys with a stranger is hard to avoid, but it is always worth checking whether they are a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional body.

‘Following a key commitment in our Modern Crime Prevention Strategy the government has been working with police and industry to look at the methods being used by criminals to steal vehicles and how to stop them. I welcome the advice being delivered as part of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) initiative to inform vehicle owners about the hidden dangers and the steps they can take to secure their vehicles.’

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT, added, ‘New cars have never been more secure and the latest technology has helped bring down vehicle theft dramatically. Manufacturers invest billions of pounds every year to stay one step ahead of the criminals, and the latest models include sophisticated immobilisers, smartphone-controlled tracking devices and random key codes to prevent cloning.

‘Technology can only do so much, however, and while car makers, the police and government continue to work together to ensure that stealing cars is as difficult as possible, these latest figures show there’s more consumers can do to minimise risk.’