Bikes, mopeds and vans targeted in spate of thefts across Hertfordshire

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Motorists are urged to take extra care after a spate of thefts of vans, motorcycles and mopeds.

Thieves have been stealing keys which were left inside homes close to letter boxes or insecure windows and doors, enabling them to drive the vehicles away.

Key fobs should never be left close to doors or windows where they could be seen by thieves. If they are left in a place which is within five metres of the vehicle, equipment exists which can pick up the signal from the key and relay it to the vehicle and unlock the doors.

When motorcycles and mopeds have been targeted, unsecured vehicles have also been wheeled away or loaded onto larger vehicles.

Inspector Paul Lawrence, from the Herts Police crime reduction unit, said: “Vehicle security systems are advancing all the time, and generally they are very secure.

However, certain systems are being targeted using both very basic and quite sophisticated techniques. In some cases criminals have gained access to expensive equipment used by manufacturers, which can render the latest security systems ineffective.

“You should never give anyone you do not know access to your keys or vehicle and ensure your vehicle doors are locked when using remote central locking before leaving your vehicle.”

Following some of these steps will also help to protect your vehicle:

· If possible, always park your car or motorcycle in a locked, alarmed garage.

· Always lock your bike and set its alarm if it has one and try to use a designated motorcycle parking place with a stand and security loop.

· Use a motorcycle/scooter/moped cover – don’t advertise what you’ve got!

· Never hand vehicle keys over to a third party or leave the vehicle unattended at a valet parking, car wash or other parking places, where criminals can gain access to the vehicle and code a key electronically.

· If your vehicle is fitted with on board Wi-Fi consider switching this facility off, if you do not need it which will reduce the chance of criminals hacking into the vehicle’ system or your banking or personal data from linked devices.

· Consider fitting an ‘OBD safe’ device; a secure lockable device that fits over the vehicle’s on board diagnostic port, in the vehicle cabin. This prevents criminals using software to code a key for the vehicle. Devices can be obtained from www.ProtectAVan.co.uk.

· If your vehicle has a keyless entry system ensure you place the vehicle tablet key in your home address, as far away from the vehicle as possible, ideally place the key in a metal box.

· Consider fitting a dual band tracking device that works on VHF/UHF and GPS, to ensure that one tracking system is still functioning if criminals use GPS blocking techniques to avoid detection. Devices approved by Thatcham help to combat this type of vehicle theft, as vehicles equipped with a tracking device are often promptly recovered. To find our more visit www.tracker.co.uk.

· Criminals can also employ remote/keyless entry jamming equipment; so make sure your car is locked by physically trying the door handle before leaving it.

· Ensure that ‘home’ on your vehicle ‘Sat Nav’ is shown as the post code of your local police station and not your actual home address.

· If advertising your vehicle for sale online, ensure that the registration number is not displayed when photographed to avoid the cloning of its identity. Always accompany prospective purchasers on a test drive and carry a mobile phone with you for contact in the event of emergency.

· Consider replacing van locks with a high security door lock, resistant to picking or breaking and slam or deadlocks. These can be obtained from www.ProtectAVan.co.uk