SUVs have never been more popular. In fact, SUVs and crossovers now account for more than half of all new car sales in the UK - a whopping 54.8% according to Autocar. People obviously can’t get enough of their higher driving position and copious boot space.
Unfortunately this demand also makes SUVs extremely attractive to thieves. There are huge profits for them to make, be it from stripping down the vehicle to meet the high demand for quality second-hand spares – selling it on to an unsuspecting member of the public - shipping it abroad (mainly Eastern Europe) - or simply using the vehicle and its paperwork to commit other crimes. And of course there’s the huge inconvenience and cost, as well as immense distress to your client, the victim that follows
Range Rovers have become a particular target. Last winter, data from Tracker Network UK showed that Range Rovers were leading the list of most stolen vehicles in the country for the third year in a row - surpassing other prestige vehicles like the BMW X5, Audi A4, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
It doesn’t matter where people live, either. SUV theft is making news headlines across the country from the rural community to cities like Manchester, Birmingham and London. Indeed, there were 7376 thefts of Land Rovers recorded in the capital alone between 2019 and January last year.
What can be done?
If any of your customers own an SUV, particularly a Range Rover, they can’t afford to be asleep at the wheel. At MS Amlin we desperately want your customers to enjoy the experience of owning their new pride and joy, so we ask that you please pass on the following 5 actions that can be taken now to reduce their chances of becoming the next victim and to these keep SUV kleptomaniacs at bay ….
1. Buy a faraday pouch for car keys
Keyless entry systems may be a popular convenience, but they also make life incredibly easy for professional pilferers as well. This is because thieves can now capture the signal from key fobs using easily obtainable scanning devices.
It goes like this… thieves simply scan a property from the outside, pick up the keyless signal through the walls, and then relay this signal to a fellow felon standing by the car. This allows them to open the car door (without triggering the alarm) and drive off into the sunset, all within a few seconds.
This new keyless technology has led to a spate of SUV-theft - keyless entry crime now accounts for 94% of all stolen vehicles according to Fleet News. What’s worse, it can be done anywhere at any time. In many instances, cars have been stolen from an owner’s drive in broad daylight but theft from restaurants, hotels and places or work are not uncommon.
Although some car manufacturers are combatting this problem by using wide band frequencies, we recommend storing all fobs (including spares) in a faraday pouch or box. These containers are lined with metallic material that blocks the signal and prevents it from being intercepted. Problem solved.
2. Invest in a tracker
Technology can be used to turn the tables on car thieves, too. And fitting a tracker is a simple but effective way to fight back. It won’t stop perpetrators from pinching a vehicle but it can help the owner to recover it.
Although many SUVs come with a tracker already fitted, these frequently run out of gas after three years. There’s often a subscription fee to pay thereafter, too. Please do renew your subscription, or if you choose to fit your own, please place it in hard-to-guess location. The craftiest crooks know where manufacturers place trackers and often rip these out.
There are plenty of trackers to choose from but we recommend Very High Frequency (VHF) ones that are Thatcham approved. Why? Because their strong signal can be detected if the SUV has been hidden underground or stashed in a shipping container, and the Thatcham accreditation is a sign of the device having met their stringent testing.
3. Fit stealth immobiliser
This one is extremely useful. It stops thieves in their tracks by preventing them from starting the car (even if they manage to gain entry). As a result, it’s probably the single most effective thing that an SUV owner can do.
Whereas traditional immobilisers are useless if a thief is using a stolen key fob (or cloned its signal), stealth or ‘ghost’ immobilisers require the driver to manually enter a code before the vehicle starts. Even better, there’s no physical keypad. The driver merely has to press buttons on the car’s dashboard or entertainment system in a particular sequence.
The reason that Stealth immobilisers are so good is because they’re extremely subtle. Most thieves won’t even know one’s there. They’re also highly convenient because the ‘code’ can be set and controlled via a mobile phone. Ingenious, eh?
4. Go back to basics
Remember when manual steering locks were all the rage in the 1990s? We thought we’d seen the last of these. However, they’re now back in vogue because keyless entry systems are so easily hacked.
The same can be said for other old-fashioned security devices like pedal and handbrake locks. Criminals often see them, realise they’ll be a pain to remove, and move on to an easier target. Anything that makes a car more effort to steal is well worth the effort for owners.
Other old school methods can work well, too. For example, etching the registration number into a vehicle’s glass makes it harder for thieves to simply swap number plates and sell the SUV on. It’s also a good idea to write one’s contact details on valuable parts in indelible ink (that shows up under ultra-violent light). This makes components harder to sell and improves the odds of your property being returned later on.
All of the above simply add to the thieves’ problems, hence there’s more chance that they will simply move on.
5. Use your noggin
In a tech-driven world, it’s easy to forget common sense sometimes. This is a shame because SUV owners can actually do a lot to keep their vehicle safe simply by thinking about their actions.
For example, many people carelessly leave their car paperwork inside the vehicle. This helps criminals to pose as the rightful owner, especially if its full service history is at hand. The most important document, of course, is the logbook (or V5C). This should always be kept in a safe place at home.
Where we park our car, especially overnight, can also frustrate opportunistic bad eggs. Those who park their SUV in a dark alley rather than a well-lit street are more at risk. Leaving valuables on display can also prove irresistible to the sticky fingered.