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We advise keeping theft-attractive items out of sight – although it’s much harder to do for vehicles.

It used to be enough to have robust key security measures. But, this issue has been complicated by keyless vehicles and devices used by criminals to defeat security systems without leaving a trace. Despite going down in recent years, now the number of vehicle related thefts in England and Wales is rising[1].

Criminals aren’t always trying to take the vehicle itself. Instead, they’ll break in to or deconstruct it to access valuable parts or loose items inside, like tools and tablets. For example, rising metal prices has led to increased incidents of catalytic converter theft and other parts containing precious metals. A growing issue is battery theft as electric and hybrid vehicles become more common.

  • Keep vehicles in locked garages as much as possible. Where space is limited, prioritise vehicles most likely to be targeted indoors, like light commercial vehicles and other types with high axles (since they give easier access to catalytic converters), high-value brands, and those that are more vulnerable (i.e. because there is a known fault with the security system or a window or door is damaged).
  • Ensure windows are fully closed before leaving a vehicle unattended or stepping out of it briefly (for example, to refuel).
  • Don’t leave valuable tools, stock and equipment in vehicles while they’re unattended (e.g. overnight).
  • Encourage workers and customers to remove the keys and lock their vehicle (and test that it is definitely locked) – even if they’re just stepping away for a moment to make a delivery, pick something up or complete a payment.

    - Put up signs to remind both employees and customers of this in car parks, pick up/drop off/delivery bays, sales forecourts, and anywhere the public could access and remove a vehicle from.

    - Consider making use of key fob signal blockers if you believe your vehicles might be at risk from criminal use of signal relay or jamming devices.
  • Install robust physical security precautions and deterrents along, around and inside your perimeter, buildings and any outdoor storage containers.
  • Establish good key security practices across the business. For example, emphasise the importance of not leaving keys unattended, especially in reception areas and driveable vehicles.
  • Include theft prevention in driver training.
  • Make employees aware of what has been installed in or around vehicles, such as intruder alarms, immobilisers, CCTV and tracking devices.
  • Consider using steering wheel locks for extra security, particularly for keyless vehicles. Driving wheel clamps may also be worthwhile, if vehicles will be left unattended for extended periods.
  • Don’t let customers post keys through your letterbox. Only let keys be ‘posted’ into a secure key deposit box, fixed inside the building for the purpose.
  • Train employees accompanying customers on vehicle demonstration drives not to hand over the keys when they’re not in the vehicle themselves.
  • See our guidance for motor trades about unaccompanied demonstrations and courtesy vehicles to find out what other precautions you could consider.
Find information on regulations that you and your business may need to comply with.
Some of our templates may be useful when developing security systems.
Identify the key functions in your business and work out the damage that interruption could do.
Frequently asked questions
Find answers to some common queries about securing property, vehicles and stock, and protecting people against potential threats.