Drivers warned against common mistake that could invalidate insurance and increase theft risk

A set of car keys in someone's hand
-Credit: (Image: Rob Browne/Walesonline)

The UK's motorists are being urged to sidestep a frequent mistake that can culminate in vehicles being stolen, the loss of expensive personal items, and insurance companies refusing claims. By employing a simple security practice, you might avoid major future hassle and save a considerable amount of money.

The number plate experts at RegTransfer are advising drivers to always ensure their vehicle is locked and secure before leaving it. They say by failing to do so, car owners drastically elevate their chances of becoming crime victims, which may consequently impact their insurance.

As asserted by RegTransfer, an alarming tally of 363,321 car theft incidents were reported to police units across England and Wales in 2023 alone. The Express reports that one of the most prevalent methods of theft, which is conveniently preventable, involves leaving a car door unlocked, essentially giving robbers an open invitation.

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that nearly half (46%) of all thefts pertained to vehicles left with their doors unsecured. Moreover, it's concerning to note that 40% of thefts involved criminals "hacking" signals from keyless entry systems, a trend that has alarmingly surged recently.

At the other end of the spectrum, less sophisticated methods like smashing car windows to gain entry accounted for just 16% of reported crimes last year, down from 27% a decade earlier, suggesting that criminals are evolving their tactics to match modern technology, reports Birmingham Live.

Mark Trimbee, CEO of RegTransfers, stressed the urgency for motorists to take proactive measures to avoid becoming victims. He advised: "It should become a habitual behaviour to lock up your car, even if you're just refuelling or parking briefly in your driveway. You should never leave your vehicle running if you're leaving the driver's seat, and keep an eye out to make sure all windows and sunroofs are fully closed."

"For keyless entry cars, it's wise to reprogram keys when buying a second-hand car. Using signal-blocking pouches can prevent relay attacks, and investing in a steering wheel lock adds an extra layer of security - for both keyed and keyless cars."

He further recommended: "While you're out on the road, keep your doors locked and maintain enough space to manoeuvre in traffic."

Data shows that 53% of thefts involving personal belongings were due to unlocked vehicles. A third of these incidents (27%) led to significant financial losses, with some exceeding £15,000.

RegTransfer has also cautioned that car insurance providers often reject claims if a vehicle was left accessible due to an open window or keys left in the ignition.

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