Police urge Dacorum drivers to protect their vehicles this spring - plus tips on how to keep your car safe

Keyless thefts of vehicles also continue to be an issue

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:06 pm

Police are urging drivers to make sure they keep their vehicles secure this spring following increases in motor vehicle crime.

Crime in general has fallen in Hertfordshire since the first lockdown began, but there has been an increase in certain types of vehicle crime. Thefts from motor vehicles increased 20 per cent in March (up 59 from 302 in March 2020).

Theft of catalytic convertors has also risen with over 700 offences in the last six months (1 October 2020 – 31 March 2021) compared with 454 in the same period in 2019/20.

Police

However, in the last two weeks there has been a significant drop in the number of offences reported apart from in the Stevenage, North Herts and Dacorum areas.

Keyless thefts of vehicles also continue to be an issue. This is where thieves use a device to bypass a vehicle’s security system, by using the signal from the vehicle’s key fob to unlock and start the engine.

Devices can also be used to clone key fobs if a criminal manages to get access to a fob.

There have also been several reports of a scam targeting vehicles being sold privately, where criminals arrive to view the vehicle and switch the key fobs with a replica. They then return at a later time and steal the vehicle using the stolen fob.

Inspector Nicola Dean from the Constabulary’s Crime Reduction Unit said: “Most types of crime have remained low during the last year, but criminals have been targeting vehicles, either for items inside the vehicles or their catalytic converters, which they sell for the precious metals used to build the units.

"The criminals have been especially targeting hybrid models of Toyota and Honda brands so I would advise owners of these types of vehicles to get their catalytic converters security marked and invest in a catloc device to deter thieves.

“We have also had an increase in the theft of keyless entry vehicles, with thieves using electronic devices to boost the signal from the vehicle’s keyless fob.

"If the key is close enough to the vehicle, even if it is inside the home, the device can detect the fob signal and use it to open and start it.

"There’s a number of steps you can take to prevent this but one of the most effective deterrents is an old-fashioned steering wheel lock.”

Hertfordshire Constabulary has teamed up with garages around the county to offer free catalytic converter security marking. Security marking can help to deter thieves.

Details of the garages taking part in the security marking scheme can be found here. The marking takes around two hours.

To help protect your catalytic converter:

> Don’t park your car/van half on the pavement as it makes it easier for the thieves to get underneath it.

> If you have a diesel van or other high clearance vehicles having your catalytic converter marked, or secured can deter thieves who steal them for the precious metal components.

> Park in a garage or other secure area if possible.

> Consider property marking your catalytic converter. It is cheap and may reduce your insurance.

> A sign in your window saying your catalytic converter has been marked may well deter thieves.

> Consider buying a catloc clamp to secure your catalytic converter to your vehicle and get it security marked.

To help prevent your vehicle being stolen:

> 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.

> Consider fitting an ‘OBD safe’, a secure lockable device that fits over the vehicle’s on board diagnostic (OBD) port, in the vehicle cabin. This prevents criminals using software to code a key from the vehicle.

> Consider fitting a dual band tracking device that works on VHF/UHF and GPS, to make it more difficult for the tracking signal being blocked.

> Criminals can also employ remote/keyless entry jamming equipment so make sure your car is locked by trying the door 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.

> Use an approved steering wheel lock and never leave your vehicle unlocked. Police recommend products that are Sold Secure or Secured By Design.

For more advice on how to make your vehicle safe visit the Hertfordshire Police website.