Cases of car theft across Australia has been steadily increasing. Being a victim of theft is extremely stressful, inconvenient, costly and time-consuming. If it’s an opportunist theft like a joy ride or getting from A to B, it’s usually recovered within a few days but is likely to be damaged.
In many cases, cars are stripped down and sold off as parts or re-birthed as a completely new car – never to be seen again. Read on for some tips on how you can keep your car more secure.
How to reduce the chances of car theft.
Put your key away: not lying around, especially in your front entry or in the ignition.
Park in a busy, well-lit area.
Lock the car in a garage or behind gates if you can, not on the street.
Don’t leave valuables on display inside the car.
Keep your licence and fuel card in your wallet, not the glovebox.
Increase protection by fitting an engine immobiliser and a good alarm system with audible and visual warning.
It’s estimated that thefts from private homes account for well over 40% of all car thefts. If your car is parked at home it usually means you are at home too – which is utterly alarming.
Often, people leave their keys sitting just inside the front door, making it quick and easy to locate on their way out the next morning. But guess who else this makes things quick and easy for!?
Thieves are masters at unlocking your front door, slipping inside, picking up your keys and taking off in your car – all without you even realising. And they’re likely now in possession of your house keys too, with which they can return at any time to let themself in.
Never buy a stolen car
The lesser-known second victim of car theft, who often suffers an even greater financial loss than the car’s original owner, is the unsuspecting buyer of a re-birthed car.
Vehicles with a new identity or have been substantially upgraded using stolen parts can be difficult to detect, but there are precautions you can take to minimise the risk:
Beware if it’s significantly under-priced for its age, mileage and condition.
If the seller asks for payment in cash be wary.
Ensure the seller is the owner. Ask for proof of ID and purchase.
Ensure the car’s documentation is consistent with the kilometres and service history.
Get a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) Search Certificate
It costs a teeny tiny fee (just $2) and is well worth paying for the peace of mind.
A PPSR will tell you if a vehicle is encumbered, written-off, stolen or if there’s any money still owing on it. While you may think that the current owner’s car loan is not your issue, if they don’t pay the remainder of the loan out, the vehicle can still be repossessed from you.
All you’ll need is the car’s serial number (VIN or chassis). While recording these numbers, look for signs of tampering, welding, damaged and repainted areas on surrounding panels. At a measly $2, there really is no excuse not to. Do a used car or vehicle search here
What happens if I unknowingly buy a stolen vehicle?
If you buy a vehicle privately and it is later found to be stolen, you could lose both your car and money. If you’re not confident or are in any doubt of the legitimacy of the car or seller, don’t hand over the money.
Bear in mind a Licensed Motor Car Trader (LMCT) must guarantee a clear title, so at least you have some cover by purchasing through a used car dealer.
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