You may have read about the FOUR new Range Rover Evoques, all stolen from Winston Green, Birmingham, one night before Christmas 2018. The local press estimated the value at £240,000 of vehicles!
The police stated ‘A £10 car lock could have prevented one of these cars been taken!”. They used ‘unknown electronic devices’ to overcome the standard security locking systems .
An Evoque was also recently stolen from Solihull and the built-in trackers were ripped out, but the owners’ linked Smart Phone App showed it to be 7000 miles away the next day. This means your stolen to order, top spec car, can easily be transported to a continent such as Africa within 24 hours.
That is faster than I had a recovered car returned to me by the R.A.C. from the South Coast, 120 miles away!
To overcome new technology weaknesses, it does appear that an ‘old school’, secondary lock does seem to be a very simple solution. Even fitting a cheap secondary lock, there is a good chance they won’t bother with your car at first glance as they will need a selection of hand tools, not just a small electronic gizmo to steal the vehicle. If they see you have invested in a really good device it makes sense that even the more determined thief will just opt to move onto their next target, even if they are ‘stealing to order’. (Stealing a particular car model for a pre-arranged buyer). In some cases they may not need to obtain the car fob, but they definitely need the secondary lock’s key, so you have instantly doubled their problem.
Note that this also demonstrates a need for good all-around awareness and home security alongside good vehicle security.
Sadly, they do go ‘hand-in-hand’ in the modern world, and we need to wake up and acknowledge this fact! A well secured car outside a well secured house is not a good target.
We have covered home security in some great detail in previous Bannerwatch articles, so now it is time to take a quick look at a selection of car secondary locking devices, as we are suddenly aware that they are a LOW COST SOLUTION TO A HIGH TECH PROBLEM. You certainly can’t open a steering lock from the other side of a car park, even if the car is ‘unlocked’, and that’s a fact!
There are many variants of basic auto locks that are brightly coloured and look substantial, and this is a good place to start for perhaps a limited budget. They will in reality probably be quite easy to break off with a hammer or the cylinder lock can be drilled out with hand tools.
1. Baseball Bat design steering locks are often a loose, ratchet up, design, which are designed to clamp to the wheel rim but can easily slide around, but are quite obstructive when fixed in place. I have bought a couple of common types but they are crudely designed and rough casting edges or over tightening ratchet-lock types may easily damage expensive, leather trimmed (thumb control) steering wheels. They do add a personal defence element that could be justified (in law) for self-defence within the vehicle confines when not fitted. (See Ebay from £6 to £11). The sudden rise in car-jacking events in the West Midlands may make this type of lock a quite reassuring addition to your car interior, maybe not to actually fit!
2. Other designs are rife on Ebay/Amazon including Gear lever to
handbrake tube locks (£10- £50), Pedal to wheel (classic crook-lock) bar style design (which can possibly be kicked apart in the foot well) etc. and many different T-design steering locks that reach forward over the dashboard, limiting rotation of wheel dramatically. All of these devices offer varying degrees of hindrance to the casual thief for a low price, but all have drawbacks due to strength of material and quality / design of locks and fitment of lock barrels used in their construction. Some feel quite robust and with some their small size may offer a certain convenience of storage. Obviously modern electric handbrakes and JLR style sinking gear-selectors render some of these devices unsuitable. There are even floor to pedal padlocking clamps (from £8) but this entails bending double in the foot well or kneeling outside the car to fit it? Er…no!
3. The STOPLOCK passes through the rim over the wheel centre and under the opposite side. It has a strong sprung loaded, click shut mechanism, so you don’t need the special puzzle key to lock it. (Circular locks are often
seen on vending machines as they cannot be drilled out like cylinder locks). It is designed to be highly visible with a yellow cover with additional red flashing (alarm style) LED to make people more aware that it is present. The long arm on it makes the turning of the steering wheel a near impossible proposition and can even be positioned over the driving position if you wish! The basic version retails at around £30, and I can recommend these as a very cost-effective, respected security device that will fit a multitude of steering wheels. I would consider it to be the minimum level of security to fit to any vehicle.
4. The STOPLOCK PRO range includes heavier duty, and also curvier designs to fit bigger airbags on vehicles such as Citroens, or if you just want a bigger, stronger one. There are also models in the PRO range to fit other designs of wheels, big rims on Vans and 4X4 vehicles etc (from £40 to £80 depending on spec). The heavier duty versions have twin locking steel shackles clearly seen looping under the wheel rim! These devices are all Thatcham standard rated for extra reassurance. The size of the lock itself means it needs storing in a foot well, behind the driver’s seat or in the boot, but they are very effective devices and are well worth the hassle.
5. The DISKLOK device is generally considered to be the most effective steering wheel locking device on the market, as it completely shrouds the steering wheel in a 2-piece, clam style, heavy duty casing, with a locking arm protruding from it. This is rated as a Category 3 device by Thatcham. This design spins around the steering wheel, so no purchase can be gained to even try to force the lock or turn the wheel in any way. Simple and very effective! There are a choice of sizes to pick from in the range, small, medium and large, so it’s a simple matter of measuring your steering wheel diameter and buying the size to suit. It is a bigger, more cumbersome device, but if you value your vehicle and want to guarantee that your car is going to still be there, where you left it, then they are well worth spending (£115- £125) on. It’s still going to be less than your insurance excess! A car with a DISKLOK would have to have the device cut off slowly with heavy tools such as a Disker, so would be a noisy difficult job to leave the car usable! Again this will take space to store, but a storage cover is available as an extra to prevent knocks or damage and often a passenger foot well is empty. Remember if you want to discourage a thief, then you will have to go out of your way to be diligent and this device certainly says “Go away, it’s locked!”.
6. Driving Wheel clamps are also available as a very effective option, from small and neat to professional, steel triangular faced designs, but due to having to reach around to lock up the dirtiest part of the vehicle makes this a rather unpleasant and awkward option. Perhaps only employed for longer term security on static trailers and caravans etc. The size of a road wheel and tyre are usually noticeably larger than the steering wheel, so storage of such devices is more awkward unless you have a big, empty boot. It is obvious, but maybe needs stating: Secondary security costs should realistically increase as the value of the item you are protecting increases. A £10 lock on a £50,000 car would, perhaps be seen as a partial effort! But, as we know, many owners make absolutely no effort to fit secondary security, so that’s their gamble? We hope you are a more pro-active vehicle owner if you are reading this. Seriously, what rational reason do you have to NOT fit one??
A final piece of advice on this subject:
IF YOU FIT AN EXTRA SECURITY DEVICE, DON’T KEEP IT’S KEY ON YOUR CAR KEYRING!
Keep it safely with you on a separate keyring that you take with you. Hopefully you can see the danger of keeping car and housekeys together, if one is compromised the other is too!
Car keys are often stolen and information in the vehicle can then lead them back to your now vulnerable house.
Remember, they will not hesitate to break in to your house, with the intention of stealing your car keys if it all looks to be an easy, quick option.
Moving on from this, there is one final, but not so obvious, question:
You may have your normal car key-fob safe, but if you have a spare set, are they secured?
Maybe you should you consider storing them and in a wallet with radio frequency (R.F.) blocking?
Perhaps off premises with family, or in a safe or in a hidden key-safe?
Yes, I had not thought about this additional problem of spare keys until recently, either!