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Why are anti-theft devices in cars important?

In Germany, around 20,000 cars are stolen every year. This value has remained constant for about 10 years. Reason enough for car owners to take a look at an overview of the systems used to secure their vehicles against theft. In addition to these anti-theft measures, we will tell you in this blog entry about other things that should be taken into account after leaving the car to prevent break-ins into the car.

Which anti-theft systems are there?

No anti-theft device alone can guarantee one hundred percent protection. It helps to apply several ways of theft protection. A distinction is made between mechanical and electronic anti-theft measures. We will list the most common variants below.

Example of an attempt to break into a car to show how important anti-theft protection is
  1. mechanical systems:
    • Locks and steering wheel claws: steering wheel claws are metal constructions which are attached to the steering wheel or the wheel. They prevent steering as well as driving away and act as a deterrent for thieves, as they have to be removed by force, which is time-consuming. A positive aspect for vehicle owners is that the steering wheel locks are easy to operate and take up very little space when they are not needed. Similarly, there are also immobilizers for the pedals. These pedal locks block two pedals, generally the clutch and brake. This can prevent driving away. Again, the installation is very simple and quick. The pedal lock can also be easily stowed under the seat when not in use.
    • Gear Shift Lock: This system usually locks the gear lever with a steel bolt and is simply locked after parking. Disadvantage: The installation is done by a professional and can cost several hundred euros.
    • valve guard: This small part is mounted directly on the tyre valve and ensures that the air in the tyre is released when the tyre rotates. If the valve guard is removed by force, the valve will be damaged. Disadvantage for the vehicle owner: The removal must not be forgotten before driving off, otherwise driving is already over after a few meters.

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  2. Electronic systems for theft protection:
    • Immobilizer The electronic immobilizer has been mandatory since 1998 and is installed in every vehicle ex works. It works by means of an RFID chip, which is usually located in the car key. Only with this chip can the on-board computer start the engine.
    • Electric steering wheel lock: The system has been available in vehicles for many years. Here the steering wheel locks into a safety position when the key is removed. Only when the key is inserted into the ignition lock and the steering wheel is moved does the system unlock again. It is the most common anti-theft system. However, electronics can also fail, so it is always advisable to use a mechanical anti-theft device such as the steering wheel claw.
    • alarm system: It is also available for theft protection in many modern vehicles. In most cases the alarm system reacts to vibrations and changes in inclination, as well as to glass breakage, voltage drop and via contact switches when the doors are opened.
    • OBD-Lock: (also called OBD-Saver) The system prevents unauthorized access to the ECU and thus to the immobilizer. Digital manipulations are prevented with this socket. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, retrofitting an OBD saver can cost around 200 euros.
As an example of a mechanical immobilizer, the product picture of the steering wheel claw 10290 from HP is shown

In addition to the above-mentioned systems for theft protection, it is also worth having a GPS device on board. These are ideal for tracking a stolen vehicle. The position of the device is sent to the vehicle owner directly via app on the smartphone. The GPS device does not need to be installed, but should not be visible. It is only important to recharge the device regularly or to make sure that the batteries are always fresh.

How can car break-ins be reduced?

In addition to all mechanical and electronic systems for theft protection, car break-ins can also be reduced with a few rules of conduct. Even if some of these tips sound commonplace, many people still neglect them:

  • Never keep the spare key in the car and pull the key out even during short stops
  • Make sure that the steering wheel lock engages when the engine is switched off
  • Never leave valuables visible in the vehicle.
  • Always keep windows and sunroofs closed.
  • After closing the vehicle, check again that the doors are really closed
  • For car radios with removable control panel, do not leave it in the car.
  • Also, do not leave your bags in the back seat after shopping, if you suspect that something valuable might be in them.

In addition, it is also advisable not to store the car key in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle, especially with the "Keyless Go" systems that are widespread nowadays. The location of parking also plays a role. Here you should park in bright and busy places and at home preferably in the garage or within sight of your home. Especially at the lake or beach it is always good to have other vehicles nearby. This increases the chance of the thief being caught. In remote, not visible places, however, he has an easy game.

What to do if the vehicle is stolen after all?

If a theft could not be avoided despite all the precautions taken to prevent theft, the police should be called first. They will also clarify whether the vehicle could have been towed away. This can happen not only in the case of incorrect parking, but also if the vehicle is badly secured. If it is confirmed that your vehicle has been stolen, a written theft report must be submitted to the police. Afterwards, the insurance company should be informed about the damage as soon as possible. Subsequently, the vehicle should also be registered with the vehicle registration authority.

An overview of the individual steps after a car theft:

  1. Stay calm - consider whether the vehicle is being driven by another person. Maybe by someone in the family with access to the spare key? Or could the car be parked somewhere else?
  2. Inform the police and make sure that the vehicle has not been towed away.
  3. Were the EC card and credit card stolen in addition to the car? Have them blocked!
  4. Written theft report to the police - the vehicle registration document and your identity card are required for this purpose
  5. Now the vehicle theft can be reported to the insurance company
  6. Don't forget - deregister the vehicle at the vehicle registration office with copies of the vehicle registration document and the theft report
 Picture shows two men talking to two policemen sitting in a police car and informing them about the theft of their car.

Most insurance companies have a so-called monthly deadline. This means that after one month the ownership of the vehicle is transferred to the insurance company. If the vehicle is found before that, the insurance pays the costs of the train ride to the place where it was found - usually up to a maximum of 1,500 kilometres. This information can of course vary depending on the insurance company and the agreed conditions. If the stolen vehicle is leased, it goes without saying that the lessor must also be informed, as he is the owner of the vehicle.

To avoid this effort, it is worth thinking about the anti-theft device and being a little more attentive when leaving the vehicle. A simple steering wheel claw as an immobilizer makes it harder for car thieves to steal the vehicle. Especially with seasonal vehicles and campers that are not moved for a longer period of time, mechanical immobilizers are useful. So you can park your vehicle without having to worry about it. We wish you a good trip at all times.

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