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Frequently Asked Questions

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Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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Firstly, it is preferable not to leave any possessions or valuables in your vehicle, unless this is unavoidable. If you need to leave any belongings in your vehicle keep them out of sight as much as possible, for example in the boot or glove box. Your vehicle is more likely to be targeted by thieves if they are aware there are valuable goods in it. This is especially the case at Christmas when people may leave presents in their cars.

A technique that is becoming increasingly common is where thieves gain access to vehicles using devices that block the signals sent by the remotes/key fobs that control their central locking systems. High-tech anti-theft systems have caused some drivers to become complacent and they subsequently don't check that the doors have actually locked. Many central locking systems and alarms are now activated by remotes that use radio frequencies - thieves are now using this to their advantage.

They can use certain everyday devices that utilise similar frequencies to jam the signal from the remote so the car remains unlocked. Some of these devices work continuously and so if left hidden in a bush for example, they can effectively block the signals across an entire street. Once the owner has walked away, they then enter the unlocked vehicle and remove any goods that are left inside. The thieves rely on the fact that car owners are often distracted, with some operating the remote as they are walking away. Drivers tend to assume that the remote will have worked and the car will be locked.

You should always take note of the indicator lights flashing or the noise of the doors locking. As an extra precaution, it is advisable to always physically check that the doors are locked. However, in case you do happen to become a victim of this type of theft, you should ensure that you have good insurance cover for your vehicle. Some victims have found they are not insured, as it leaves no proof that the car has been broken into.

In summary, when you leave your vehicle:

  • Always remove the ignition key and make sure the steering lock is on.
  • Close all the windows completely but never leave children or pets in an unventilated car.
  • Lock your car, even if you only leave it for a few minutes and check to make sure it's locked.
  • Remove all contents including shopping bags etc., or lock them in the boot.
  • Remove mountings for external satellite navigation systems.
  • Never leave vehicle documents in the car e.g. your driving licence or vehicle registration certificate.
  • Install an anti-theft device such as an alarm or immobiliser.
  • Etch your registration number on all your car windows.
  • At night park in well-lit areas.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.