Steps you can take to prevent car theft

Car theft is an unfortunate reality, so taking steps to protect your vehicle, and minimise the likelihood of your car being stolen, is crucial.

Motor vehicle theft is on the rise across Australia, and experts are stressing the need for motorists to be more aware of what they can do to reduce the chances of their car being targeted.

For example, in Victoria, 16,766 were cars stolen in the 12 months to 30 June 30 2023, an increase of 27 per cent from the previous 12 months.

The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) reports it received 1760 claims for stolen vehicles across the state in the 2022-23 financial year, which was a 10 per cent increase over the previous year.

In NSW, vehicle theft increased 21 per cent year on year, with March 2023 recording the highest number of thefts in the past six years.

Bambi Gordon, Neighbourhood Watch Victoria CEO, says there are a number of simple steps people can take to reduce the chances of their vehicle being a target.

“Relaxed attitudes to property security, including cars, make it easier for opportunistic thieves to take advantage of Victorian motorists and steal cars directly from properties and driveways,” she says.

Lock it up

It might sound obvious, but far too many thefts happen because people forget to lock their cars. Always double-check that your car is locked, and don’t forget to close all windows. Thieves often look for the easiest targets, and an unlocked car is an open invitation.

Park in well-lit areas

Darkness is a thief’s best friend. When parking at night, choose somewhere as well-lit as possible. A brightly lit space not only deters thieves but also makes it easier for others to notice if someone is tampering with your car.

Hide your valuables

Don’t make your car a tempting target. Ideally, you shouldn’t leave valuable items in your vehicle at all, but if you must, keep them out of sight.

Whether it’s a laptop, shopping bags, or even just spare change, thieves are more likely to break into a car if they see something they want.

Use a steering wheel locks

Steering wheel locks are a visible deterrent. These devices make it challenging for thieves to steer your car even if they manage to break in and get it started. It’s a simple investment that can go a long way in protecting your vehicle.

Install a car alarm

Car alarms are like your car’s personal bodyguard. The loud noise they make when triggered can startle and discourage thieves. If yours doesn’t have one, consider having one installed.

Keep your keys secure

It might be convenient to leave a spare key under the mat, but it’s also a potential disaster. Keep your keys secure and avoid leaving them in obvious places. Thieves know where to look, so don’t make it easy for them.

Know your surroundings

Be aware of your surroundings, especially in unfamiliar areas. If something feels off, trust your instincts. Avoid parking in poorly lit areas or places with a high crime rate. A little caution can go a long way in preventing car theft.

Taking these simple precautions can significantly reduce the risk of your car being stolen.

Remember, thieves often go for the easy targets, so make it a bit harder for them. With these tips, you’ll be better equipped to keep your vehicle safe and sound.

Have you ever had your car broken into? Had you ignored any of these tips? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to protect your car from number plate theft

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Car Thefts using “Relay Attack” for Proximity Key Tags.

    Many cars now have the proximity key tags that work even in your pocket & no pressing of key tag buttons is needed.

    In many countries Relay Attacks are very common.
    A crim simply uses a radio amplifier or relay box to send your key tag radio signal to your car when your keys are safely in your house.
    They can unlock your car & push button starts sometimes allow starting & driving it away without the keys in the car.

    The security vulnerability has been known for more than 10 years but car manufacturers haven’t done much about it.

    Online articles showed that one country reported year on year increases in Relay Attacks of 27% over the past several years & some countries, including England, are looking to mandate protections against this type of attack.
    It was also noted that it is almost impossible to insure new vehicles in some countries unless some form of immobiliser is fitted.

    A very few newer key tags have a motion detector so the key tag shuts down if it hasn’t been moved in anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. They are rare though, even though the cost to implement it is negligible.

    Our Isuzu D-Max key tag can be turned off by pushing in & holding down the lock button then pushing in & holding down the unlock button for 5 seconds.
    Pushing either the lock or unlock button wakes the key tag up again. Of course you need to remember to do it each time & make sure all your key tags are turned off.

    I originally contacted Isuzu to ask them about what I could do to protect against Relay Attacks when I found our new car would have a proximity key tag.
    The support person didn’t know that it was a security issue.
    I found some overseas Isuzu sales sites mentioned Relay Attacks online & that some key tags could be turned off so I went searching in the manual.

    Isuzu Australia warned that fitting any immobiliser could invalidate warranty because they have never tested any immobilisers with vehicles to ensure they function correctly.
    Other countries have selected “Approved” immobilisers that can be fitted before delivery.

    It is really a poor situation that manufacturers aren’t considering extra security especially considering that the Queensland Government is currently (2023) supplying $500 vouchers in some cities to pay for fitting immobilisers.

    I am sure that the situation isn’t just with Isuzu.

    I recently drove another brand car & the manual didn’t even mention Security or Relay Attack & its key tags could not be turned off.

    If the key tag can’t be turned off then putting the keys in a Faraday Bag or a metal box will prevent the radio signal getting out but needing to use a covering really shows how silly the system is.

    I noticed a local Locksmith had Faraday Bags prominently displayed for sale.

    As a further issue about unlocked vehicles, a repair staff recently stated that if our vehicle wasn’t locked then the battery drain was about 2 1/2 times higher because the vehicle security system wasn’t in sleep mode.

  2. I believe much of the car theft is actually insurance fraud for various reason. Another possibility for the increase in vehicle ‘theft’ is the massive increase in block subdivision and smaller and smaller house blocks forcing the vehicle onto the streets therefore more accessible to thieves!

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