The vast majority of us rely on cars to go about our daily business. But, because there are so many of them on the road - and because they are expensive - they are often the target of criminals. There are plenty of ways of being affected by car crime, too. We thought we would put a little guide together for you. Take a look at some of the most popular and common crimes that occur with motor vehicles, and make sure you are well prepared. Let’s take a closer look.
Car cloning's hard to spot, which can cause you a lot of problems whenever you are buying a vehicle. And, of course, it can prove to be intrusive if your car’s identity is the one that is stolen. Criminals will steal a car’s identity and use it to disguise another vehicle, for example. They will use it to avoid paying traffic fines like speeding tickets, and will even use it in more serious activities, such as armed robberies.
In general, you will have no idea that your car’s identity has been stolen. Until that is, you start getting parking ticket demands or speeding tickets in the post. It might even be a knock on the door from the police. It is essential that you notify your local police force as soon as you suspect your car has been cloned. The quicker you do this, the sooner you will be able to clear your name.
But what if you buy a cloned or stolen car? It can cause serious issues. First of all, if the police ever find out, they will impound the vehicle, and you will lose your money, regardless of the money you have spent. It’s vital that you make a few checks beforehand. Always look at the registration certificate and check it with the log book and make sure that V5C numbers match. It is even worth getting some HPI car checks done to ensure that you aren’t buying a stolen vehicle.
Theft of a car
Of course, you might be the person that has your vehicle stolen - and it’s more common than you think. It can be a devastating experience, of that there is no doubt. When you consider the cost of buying the car, plus the enormous amount of money it takes to keep it on the road, it’s no surprise. And, the worrying thing is, despite the increase in car security, the thieves are getting better.
There are a few things you can do to prevent your car getting pinched. First of all, keep it out of sight. If you have a garage, stop using it as a gym or office, and keep your car in there, as it was intended! You are far likelier to have a car stolen if a thief can’t see it. If you have to leave it on the road, make sure you keep it in good condition. It might seem counterintuitive, but thieves don't like cleanliness. It tends to mean that owners take good care of their vehicles, including fitting it with alarms. It’s just not worth the risk for them - and risk is something all thieves try and avoid.
You should also park in a safe area, with plenty of street lights. Some thieves are brazen, of course. But, the vast majority will look for easier pickings than a car on a well-lit, residential street. Finally, do the simple things like locking your doors. It’s amazing how many people won’t do this on a regular basis, yet they are so surprised when their luck runs out. Make no mistake about it, thieves will go for an easy ride whenever they can. Don’t make it even easier for them!
Carjacking is still unlikely to happen to you, but incidents are increasing, and they can be scary events. Criminals will create a fake minor incident on the roads, in front of a high-value vehicle. When the driver stops to see what happens, or gets out, one of the thieves will jump in the car, and away they go.
There have been occasions when people have been held up at gun or knife point, too. As you can imagine, these incidents can be distressing in more ways than one. But, what can you do to avoid these events if you find yourself a target?
Your best bet is always to be wary of anyone asking you to get out of your vehicle for any reason unless they are a police officer. Also, you should never leave your keys in the car, no matter what. Criminals that use the carjacking technique can be convincing actors. So, make sure that you stay 100% aware when anything on the road ahead seems strange.
Theft from your car
Theft from your vehicle is the most common type of car crime. There are around 70 incidents of theft from a car for every 10,000 cars on the road. That might not seem like a lot, but give the number of vehicles on the road, it’s clear it is more common than you might think.
Most thefts are opportunistic - people walking by a vehicle and chancing their arm. But, there is still a fair percentage of professional car thieves on the prowl, despite rates dropping in recent years.
How to avoid it? Make sure that you park your vehicle in open view of a street, and always lock your doors. With regards to the interior of your car, make sure you take any valuables in with you or hide them away in the glove box. Anything that can tempt a thief to risk breaking a window should be hidden away, from your GPS unit to your car stereo. Get into the habit of clearing out your vehicle every time you leave it and you will cut the risk of a break in.
Criminal damage is another common car crime. There's a rate of around 68 incidents per 10,000 vehicles. Again, it’s mostly opportunistic vandalism that occurs late at night. The best example would be drunken youths heading home from a night in the pub and ripping off wing mirrors. But, there is also a good percentage of incidents that involve other cars causing damage before driving off.
It can be difficult to avoid these incidents, of course. But, there are a few things you can do. Always park well away from problem areas on the road, to avoid passing cars hitting your vehicle. You can also make sure your wing mirrors are tucked in, and that your radio aerial is down.
Alarm systems can also help, of course. If anyone intends to damage your vehicle on purpose, a few blasts of your car’s horn will usually scare them away.
Criminals are also ripping off their insurance companies - and yours - by creating scams on the road. They will induce an accident by provoking an accident. For example, slamming on their brakes when there is no chance of the person behind them stopping.
The results can be expensive for the innocent driver, who may be faced with all kinds of charges. These can range from injury compensation - even for phantom passengers - to the use of hire vehicles.
There tends to be a lot of people involved in these scams, too. Some doctors will be in on it, producing fake injury reports. And, there are even reports of garages and mechanics filing claims for work they never actually need to do. It all adds up to a hefty bill for the innocent party and their insurance company.
There isn’t much you can do, save for driving safely at all times. And, if you ever have a crash, make sure you stay aware of what is going on around you. Try and record all the details you can - including taking photographs. The more evidence you have on your side, the more likely they will fail in their attempts to con you out of money.
Interference with a car is also a common type of car crime, although many incidents tend to go unreported. It involves any interference with the vehicle at all that could lead to one of the crimes listed above. So, if a thief wants to steal your car but is caught in the act before they drive away, that could be interference.
There are various things that can occur, such as trying your door handles, all the way through to entering the vehicle. Unfortunately, it can be hard to prosecute anyone - and even harder to stop them trying their luck. However, a good alarm system will often be enough to scare off an opportunist. Try getting some alarm stickers if you can’t afford an alarm itself. They might just be sufficient to put doubt in the mind of a potential thief.
OK, so there you have it - we hope you have found this post helpful. As ever, if you do suffer from a car crime of any kind, make sure you contact the police.
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