Car crime has dropped dramatically over recent years, mainly due to improved security measures, resulting from joint work by the manufacturers and Thatcham, Britain’s independently operated non-profit organisation established by car insurers back in 1969. Thatcham produces annual New Vehicle Security Ratings for all UK cars submitted for test, giving individual star ratings for theft of cars, and theft from cars, and annual awards for the most secure models.
Individual car ratings within any model range are judged on factors like door locking systems, alarms and immobilisers, glazing security, vehicle identification plating and window etching, audio equipment coding, and alloy wheel security. Thatcham also separately test and give approval to security equipment, like immobilisers and alarm systems, both manufacturer supplied and aftermarket, with the familiar Thatcham Categories 1 to 7 identifying the class of equipment, from simple Category 1 Mechanical Immobilisers to Category 7 Stolen Vehicle Location Systems.
Thatcham ratings are taken into account when insurers produce their group ratings and generate premiums, so owners should take notice of how secure and thief-proof any car they are looking at buying may be. For example, whilst some cars my have standard toughened glass fitted to side and rear windows, others may employ superior laminated glass that’s far more resistant to a simple heavy blow from a proverbial ‘blunt instrument.’
Similarly, some car doors may have deadlocks, whose operation is entirely separate from the ordinary door locks and handles, and cannot be opened from either inside or outside the car without specifically being disengaged. They outsmart thieves who once gained easy entry by simply smashing a window and lifting up the door locking button. When deadlocked, the door button can be lifted and its handles operated, but the deadlocking cannot be released without a proper key or remote control. It often requires a double press of the remote’s locking function, or operation of a separate deadlock button, which many drivers may often just not bother to execute. Don’t be one of them and become another victim of car theft!
Proposal forms demanded by insurers and the policy conditions indicate that many security risks are determined by such human factors, such as leaving a car briefly unlocked, with the keys in it (nearly one in five thefts) or leaving keys readily available in your home for any burglar to steal the car in the drive or your garage (the objective of one in five burglaries) – both of which may actually render your insurance invalid. But the location of your overnight parking is critical and on-street or driveway parking adds greatly to risks and insurance ratings. If you’ve got a lockable garage, use it!