What is the best way to prevent my car/van being broken into?
Thieves will generally break into a vehicle for two reasons, to steal the vehicle or to steal something inside the vehicle.
Leaving items of value on display is an invitation for a passing thief to help themselves and you shouldn't leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, sat nav systems, mobile phones or other items on display even if you are only away from your vehicle for a couple of minutes.
Often thieves will simply smash a window, reach in and steal the item not only depriving you of your valuables but also the inconvenience of repairing your vehicle. Often car insurance will not cover the full cost of replacement of these items and you may have to pay an excess on your policy if you claim.
If you must leave items in the vehicle lock them in the boot out of sight, simply sliding items under the seat or putting them in the door bin still leaves them vulnerable to someone who gains access to your vehicle.
Leaving your vehicle unlocked or with the windows down also puts you at increased risk, many criminals will walk up and down a row of cars trying the door handles to find one unlocked, it only takes them a few seconds to search your vehicle and steal anything you have left inside, silently and without alerting you to the fact it is happening.
Many vehicle owners will leave their vehicles unattended with the engine running or the keys in the ignition, an example of that is defrosting a car in the winter. This makes it easy for thieves to steal the vehicle, we know that there are gangs of criminals who will drive around on frosty mornings looking for vehicles left defrosting to steal them. If your vehicle is stolen with the keys inside or the engine running often insurance companies will not pay out on any claim.
There are anti-theft locks and after market security products available, particularly for older vehicles, if the thief thinks it is going to take a long time to break in or steal then they may not bother trying.
Other options are to park in well lit areas or in car parks which carry the Secured By Design logo these will reduce the risk of being a victim of crime further.
The police do not endorse particular brands or types of security, there are many third party resources such as The Crime Prevention Website who can give you specific advice on locks and other security measures.
In case the worst does happen, it is worth checking with your insurance company what is actually covered should you be a victim of crime.