Theft of and from vehicles has been a problem for literally decades. Combatting it generally requires a combination of equipment and strategy.
Here, Newgate, specialists in secured access solutions share their insight into preventing vehicle theft.
The importance of secure parking
Most thefts of and from vehicles happen when the vehicles are parked. This means that your first line of defence against it is secure parking. The most secure form of parking is in a locked garage. The next most secure form of parking is in an outdoor space with high security.
Fortunately, it’s now relatively easy for both homeowners and businesses to create secure outdoor parking spaces. This is largely thanks to the development of road blocking technology. This has become vehicle owners’ first line of defence against criminals.
What are road blockers?
Road blockers (also known as “rising kerbs”) are a specific form of rise-and-fall barrier. They come in varying lengths (to suit different spaces) but are all relatively low in height.
The fact that road blockers are short vertically means that they require minimal ground space when they are in the flush position. When they are vertical, however, they are high enough to pose a barrier to all motor vehicles from mopeds to HGVs.
Road blockers for the domestic market tend to be fairly discrete. By contrast, road blockers for the commercial market tend to be designed to be highly visible. This in itself can act as a deterrent. It also serves a health-and-safety function by making sure people don’t bump into them by accident.
Commercial road blockers also tend to have advanced and powerful hydraulics. This enables them to be raised or lowered with minimal delay. This can be vital in emergencies.
How are road blockers used?
In the domestic market, road blockers are usually linked to one vehicle (via Bluetooth pairing). They will therefore drop down when that vehicle approaches them and rise up when it has passed. There is also, usually, a manual override. This can be used to allow other people to park legitimately in the space.
In the commercial market, road blockers may be linked to a specific vehicle. This is, however, relatively unusual. Generally, road blockers will be integrated into a broader access-control system designed to cope with multiple vehicles. For example, it may be linked to an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) system and/or CCTV.
Depending on the location and the level of security required, road blockers may be combined with other forms of access control such as gates, swing-arm barriers and turnstiles. This is fairly common in commercial environments but relatively unusual in domestic ones.
Road blockers and other security measures
Road blockers are excellent deterrents and have many benefits. In the real world, however, they may not be enough on their own. Even if, technically, they might be, it never hurts to add extra security. If nothing else, this can help to develop good habits that protect vehicles when they are parked outside of secured areas. Here are some useful extra security measures you can take.
Use extra perimeter controls
One key point to remember about road blockers is that they’re really only effective against motor vehicles. Pedestrians can generally get over or round them. Some vehicles, e.g., pedal bicycles can also get over or around them fairly easily. If, therefore, you need to protect against pedestrian access, then you will probably need some other kind of barrier as well.
Similarly, if you want maximum security, it can be advisable to install additional barriers against both vehicles and pedestrians. This can make it harder for criminals to enter an area on foot, get what they want and then race away in a waiting vehicle.
Add light and CCTV
After your physical barriers, light and CCTV are the mainstays of your physical security. The two really go hand in hand. You will generally need to provide light anyway for health-and-safety reasons. If necessary, add extra for greater security. You can minimise the cost of this by using motion-sensitive lights. This means that they will only power on when there is someone nearby.
CCTV needs light to function effectively (unless you want to invest in proper night-vision cameras). There are legal considerations around using it. These are, however, fairly easy to manage. Any form of CCTV is an effective deterrent. Monitored CCTV is the best deterrent. It allows malicious actors to be spotted while they are still on-site.
If you have to park a vehicle outside of a secure area, you should try to look for somewhere that has light and CCTV. For example, busy shopping streets are usually much safer options than quiet residential streets.
Make key safety a top priority
All vehicle keys need to be stored in a way that means they can’t be easily accessed by criminals. If you must keep them near a door (or window) e.g., for easy pickup, put them in a locked storage box. In a domestic environment, a basic combination lock may be enough. In commercial environments, it’s better to use PINs and/or access fobs.
If you use keyless locks, then invest in protective cases that block the signal when the key is out of use. This makes it much harder for criminals to clone your keys. Also, whenever you use your key to lock your vehicle, make sure that it has actually locked. Criminals sometimes jam the transmission between the key and the vehicle.
Use additional physical deterrents
Steering wheel, gear stick and wheel clamps can be used individually or together to make your vehicle harder to move. Etch your vehicle identification numbers on your windows. This lets potential thieves know that they will have to replace them to sell the car intact.
Keep the interior clean. Be aware that thieves may see you moving items from the interior to the boot so try to avoid this. If you know something is going to need to go in the boot, put it there before you leave. If you can’t, see if you can tuck it somewhere discretely before you exit the vehicle.
Fit vehicles with smart car alarms. These are likely to be much more effective than traditional ones. Traditional car alarms tend to rely on there being people nearby who are able and willing to take action. In the real world, however, that is rarely the case. Smart car alarms, by contrast, alert the owner directly.