Jungle warfare beats the thieves: James Ruppert suggests some tricks that may save your car from being stolen

As any driver in London knows, it's a jungle out there. The law of this jungle states that sooner, rather than later, you and your car are going to be the victims of a crime. Either your vehicle will disappear completely or the contents will be emptied into the pockets of a passing footpad. This is not just inconvenient, but costly.

The sad fact is that if someone wants to pinch your car, or break into it, there is little that even thousands of pounds of alarm system can do. As long as there are tow trucks and glass is used for windows, every car is vulnerable. However, it is possible to use cheap and cheerful urban guerrilla tactics to beat some of the thieves all of the time.

Deterrents: Ideally if you can stop someone considering your car as a target then the battle is at least half won.

Decoy dog: Sounds far-fetched, but a friend of mine swears that they've never been troubled by a break-in. All it requires is a long-haired rug plumped up and strategically placed across the front seats. When executed properly, it can resemble a slumbering mutt.

Dirty decoy: Imagine never having to wash your car ever again? Although thieves aren't fussy, like most buyers they will be attracted to a clean, tidy car. Of course this doesn't let you off the hook when it comes to cleaning the windows, lights, etc. It works well on up-market marques that are stolen to order. The DJ John Peel, recently interviewed by Carweek, claimed that this policy had prevented his Mercedes 190 from being pinched.

Decal decoy: Take off your model inscription badges, or order your new car without them. Although most thieves are clued up on specifications those innocent letters attract undesirable attention.

Clear the decks: Take away temptation by clearing the interior. Even a mangled cassette is worth something to a small-time thief. So have a small holdall or strong plastic bag that you can scoop the contents into, then lock in the boot.

Etch-a-reg: Etching the car registration number on every glass surface discourages anyone from going to the trouble of reselling your car. In addition think about using permanent markers. This medium is even more noticeable. A friend of mine has even decorated the edges with an unmissable pattern incorporating the registration number. Not recommended for the car-proud.

Radio deception: One of the easiest things to do is simply pull the volume knob off to make the system look less attractive. Otherwise hide it with a simple cardboard cover, coloured to match the fascia, but of course some thieves will want a closer look. Ideally the system should not be there, but the fitting kits that make a radio removable are costly and sometimes the subject of theft themselves. So why not simply remove the radio yourself? A bent piece of coat hanger pushes into the release holes so that you can pull it out. The aerial is a large heavy-duty cable, while the power supply and speaker wires are weedier. These will have to be beefed up with electrician's tape so that they can withstand repeated removal and replacement. For a simple, non-CD system, it works.

Now if we have not been able to discourage the passing car criminal from having a go, let's look at the next line of defence.

Locks: The easiest way in for a thief is either (a) sliding a wire behind the door jamb to pull up the door lock button or (b) sliding a wire between window and door to catch the lock mechanism. To prevent (a) unscrew and file flat the knob. But the easiest way of preventing (a) and (b) is to fit dead locks. Most cars don't have them, but you can buy a Lander or bolt locks from a DIY store. You'll need to be handy with a drill and be prepared to fiddle with extra keys.

Immobilisers: Without highlighting any particular make, the range of steering locks available are all good at holding up or deterring the thief by stopping the wheel from being turned.

Alarms: Not the frightener they once were. The public routinely ignores a wailing car. It is often better to buy a really cheap pounds 30 or less system and fit the siren inside the car. Now that really does spook a thief and it is the last place they would expect to hear a noise.

Immobilisers 2: Preventing the car from being started makes most thieves' jobs harder. Ignition isolator switches can be bought for a fiver from most car shops and easily wired in or made by a competent DIY mechanic or an electrician. Until the switch is thrown the car won't start. Fitting snap-on connectors to the battery terminals means that they can be easily pulled off. Older cars with distributors have rotor arms inside that can be removed, and no thief carries spares. The drawback with these measures is that it involves getting grubby, so keep a pair of gloves handy.

Common sense: The best way to keep hold of your car is to bear in mind some simple rules and repeat certain mantras like, 'even if I am just parking outside the newsagent for a moment, I will (1) Remove the keys from the ignition; (2) Click the steering lock on; (3) Lock all the doors'. Simple, eh? And if your pride and joy should disappear, be prepared by slipping a business card or note between the window and door, scratch your postcode on plastic trim, all in case you have to lay claim to your car should it turn up later.

All these tips are designed to make the thief think twice and hold them up so that they opt for a softer target.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

    £96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee