Car security advice and tips

Car security

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cases of vehicle-related crimes in England and Wales have significantly declined over the past few decades. While this is comforting news for car owners and a broad recognition of the improved security measures included as standard in new vehicles, we should remember that car thieves have not stopped operating.

It is therefore important not to become casual about vehicle security and run the risk of becoming a crime statistic ourselves. With that in mind, the following points are our top recommendations for improving car security.

Car security

1. Lock your car

This advice may seem obvious but ONS crime figures show that car owners consistently forget to apply this most basic security feature. Almost half of all vehicle-related thefts are because thieves had gained access through an unlocked door.

Get in the habit of always locking up, even if you will only be away from the car for a few seconds. Don’t solely rely on a quick press of the key fob either: check for audible or visual signals that the car has actually locked before you walk away. And if your car has door mirrors that can automatically fold in when the car is locked, be sure to activate this feature – thieves recognise it is a clear visual sign of a locked car.

2. Keep valuables out of sight

Opportunist thieves are often looking for easy-to-grab valuables that have been left on display. Police report that items such as jewellery, bags, purses and wallets, cash, credit cards, clothes and documents are the most commonly stolen in vehicle-related crimes.

Reduce this risk by stashing valuables out of sight, such as in the glove box or boot. Better still, take those items away with you. And if you’re going to leave the car for a longer period of time, consider clearing the boot entirely and removing the parcel shelf or load cover to show thieves that there is nothing to steal.

3. Be mindful of signals

Many modern cars are equipped with a keyless entry and start system – a convenience which sends a constant signal from the key fob in order to unlock the vehicle’s doors and de-activate the immobiliser as you approach. Although it is possible for tech-savvy thieves with special equipment to hijack this signal, they must be in close proximity to the key or vehicle.

So if you doubt the intentions of anybody in the immediate vicinity of your vehicle, wait for them to leave before approaching the car. Better still, whenever you are not driving, block the signal from the key by keeping it in a metal box or Faraday pouch. This is equally important at home as thieves can use a ‘daisy chain’ of receivers to relay the signal from the key (which is probably kept near the front door) to open the car.

4. Secure your port

Every new car sold in the UK since 2003 has been equipped with an on-board diagnostic port. Abbreviated to OBD, this port is a computer connection that allows the car to communicate messages about its mechanical health to an authorised technician. Unfortunately, thieves have discovered that with special equipment they can use this OBD port to programme blank keys to work with the car.

For this reason, some owners choose to secure their OBD port with an aftermarket lock. Typically, this can either be a lockable metal box that covers the port itself, or an electronic lock that works alongside the original immobiliser to disable the port when the ignition is off.

Car security

5. Protect your cat

Your catalytic converter, that is. The ‘cat’ forms part of your car’s emissions control system and cleans exhaust gases before they are expelled through the tailpipe. Unfortunately, the precious metals inside the cat that help to neutralise these passing gases are exactly that – precious. Which means that the catalytic converter itself has become a target for thieves.

Toyota has taken action to deter thieves by issuing thousands of SmartWater invisible marking kits to local initiatives, as well as providing Toyota customers with a free Smartwater forensic marking service at their local centre. Toyota has also developed a mechanical locking device to deter would-be thieves. These measures are explained in more detail in our dedicated article on catalytic converter theft.

6. Park with care

Thieves do not like performing in front of an audience, so the place where you park has a bearing on the vehicle’s vulnerability. ONS statistics show that the likelihood of experiencing a car-related crime is much lower in busy, town centre parking areas. This is especially true when car parks are well-lit and have manned or CCTV security coverage.

Similarly, the time at which you park your car has a bearing on its security. Most instances of car-related crimes occur in the early hours of the morning, so avoid leaving in your car in a dark, unfamiliar area overnight.

Car security

7. Extra security

Modern vehicles invariably come with a high level of built-in security – the specific features of which are usually designed to react in the event of an incident. But there are simple things you can do to actively dissuade a thief from pursuing an attack on your car. These precautions include:

The use of a brightly coloured mechanical device locked across the steering wheel, gear lever or clutch pedal will provide an excellent visual deterrent to a would-be thief. A well-known steering wheel ‘crook lock’ “Stop Lock Pro Elite” is what Toyota would advise fitting to models, particularly RAV4, Hilux, Highlander, Yaris Cross, Toyota C-HR, Land Cruiser, Corolla, GR Supra, GR Yaris and GR86 (however other brands of steering wheel locks are available to purchase should you wish).

Ensuring your vehicle is linked to your MyT app. This means that in case of theft you can locate your vehicle and (with the help of the police) look to recover it, however, this feature is only available for newer models.

We may be living in a digital age but nothing will persuade an opportunist to leave your car alone more effectively than a good old-fashioned piece of ironmongery. Or for that matter, a snarling dog.

More information on preventing car crime can be found by visiting the Police UK website – www.police.uk – and by searching ‘car crime’.

NB: Details were correct at the time and date of publication

117 comments

  1. Had my 71 plate RAV stolen last week. Tracked it and recovered it through MyT but thieves had crashed it so I’m waiting for repairs.which look like taking a while waiting for parts. Wished I’d read this forum earlier. Looks like I’m due to spend a lot more on extra security although not a steering lock as the recovery guy said thieves just steal the steering wheel as well. He had photos of cars with no wheel! Disappointing security from Toyota as this is my forth RAV but maybe the last.

    1. Hi Glenn, thanks for reaching out to us.

      We are very sorry to hear that you’ve been a victim of this crime and apologise for the distress this has caused.

      Please be assured that Toyota appreciates the severity of this crime and are constantly monitoring this situation.

      Modern vehicles invariably come with a high level of built-in security but as with any model in our range, we would always recommend extra measures to protect your car from theft. Your local Toyota Centre are on hand to discuss extra means available for your car.

      If you would like to discuss this further, please contact our Customer Relations Team. You can find them here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre#/iframe/https%3A%2F%2Fforms.toyota.co.uk%2Fcontact-us.

      Once again, we apologise for the distress this crime has caused.

      Thank you.

      1. Thanks for the reply Toyota. My local dealer had absolutely no suggestions for additional security. Never heard of any extra measures.
        Wonderful.

  2. Hi,

    We have recently bought a CHR and have been trying to buy a steering wheel lock. We initially wanted to buy the stockpole lock but were then informed by Argos that these locks wont fit our car. Please can you recommend a steering wheel lock for our car? The reg is LD23JWF

    1. Hi Shehroze, thanks for your question.

      Currently, we do not have a Toyota genuine steering wheel lock available. We would recommend contacting your Toyota Centre to discuss options.

      Thanks.

  3. My 71 Plate RV4 was stolen this morning, is there a way to track it. Unfortunately I didn’t activate the App.

    1. Hi Maurice, thanks for your comment.

      We are very sorry to hear that you’ve been a victim of vehicle theft. We apologise for the distress this may have caused.

      Unfortunately, vehicle tracking is only available through the MY T app.

      We would recommend contacting our Customer Relations Team regarding this. You can find them here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre#/iframe/https%3A%2F%2Fforms.toyota.co.uk%2Fcontact-us.

      Once again, we are sorry to hear about this situation.

      Thanks.

  4. HI,

    I have recently purchased RAV4 MY23 model and worried about car getting stolen so easily either from headlight trick or ODB CAN bus. It is sad to find out that there is no encryption or authentication factory fitted security in the car on even for the brand new latest model.

    Can you recommended any aftermarket immobiliser like Ghost or it worth to get new alarm like Pandora ?

    1. Hi Amir, thanks for your question.

      Modern vehicles invariably come with a high level of built-in security, but as with any model in our range, we would always recommend extra measures to protect your car from theft. Your local Lexus Centre are on hand to discuss extra means available for your car: https://fal.cn/3wm1G.

      Additionally, we recommend a steering lock or a ghost immobiliser as protective measures.

      Thank you.

  5. I await delivery of a Rav 4 but becoming increasingly concerned about theft. There seems to be a solution through Toyota Sweden of an extra immobiliser . Can anyone help with further details

    Christian Hallin, communications manager at Toyota in Sweden, confirms to Vi Bilägare that he is aware of the vulnerability, but emphasizes that this is an industry problem that does not only affect Toyota and Lexus. 
    His advice to worried car owners is to follow the police’s recommendations to protect themselves against car theft, which includes, among other things, parking in lighted areas and using mechanical anti-theft devices, such as steering wheel crutches. 
    “Another general recommendation is to activate the car’s connected services if the model is equipped with this. For Toyota and Lexus, there is an extra immobilizer developed as an accessory installation

  6. Tried the Stoplock pro elite but it does not fit a Yaris Cross. Why recommend something that does not fit?

    1. Hi Derek, thanks for your comment.

      We have tested the Stop Lock Pro Elite on the Yaris Cross and can confirm that this does fit. It may be a bit fiddly, however it is compatible with this vehicle.

      Thanks.

  7. Hi , My Rav4 71 plate stolen on April 7th 2023 and tracked by the MyTT app. Police found the car 3 weeks later and my insurance company directed to a garage, however, I preferred my Toyota dealer for repairs due to warrenty.
    Repair is in progress , but Toyota refused to give a replacement car until the repairs. This is very disappointed me. I would have agreed with the insurance to repair their own garage and got the replacement car.
    Very very disappointed. This is my 8th car from Toyota.
    As per the reviews Rav4 has the weakest security installation on the vehicle. This is one of the reason why so many Rav4 new versions are stolen . Last week , my work car park my friends Rav4 stolen day time. Moreover, there are no new cars on the market. This is not necessary the reason delay in supply chain. it seems , Toyota in fact investigating the their own fault on the system but due to reputation , they didn’t want to inform to customers.
    It seems , Toyota need to check the quality of the security system install on this model and take this issue as very serious.
    As a loyal customer , I really lost confidences on Toyota Rav4 and the way the dealer refused to offer the replacement car.
    I wrote to Toyota about a month ago still no communication from their side about my disappointments.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Danuta, thanks for reaching out to us.

      We are very sorry to hear that you’ve been a victim of this crime. We apologise for the distress and inconvenience this has caused and understand your dissapointment.

      We understand the severity of this crime and would like to assure you that we are constantly monitoring this situation.

      Modern vehicles invariably come with a high level of built-in security but as with any model in our range, we would always recommend extra measures to protect your car from theft. Your Toyota Centre are on hand to discuss extra means available for your car. Additionally, a steering lock or a 2nd ghost immobiliser are advised as protective measures.

      Have you contacted our Customer Relations Team to discuss this?

      Thank you.

      1. Thanks for the reply. About the replacement car, the dealer told me they cannot provide me a car. Why they refused , I am not sure. Moreover, I emailed to Toyota , but not a single email or any other form of reply to my complain.
        Many including my self, I am not going to buy another Toyota , firstly , the security issue , secondly , you are expected to buy additional protection meaning your are not confidence of your own security and thirdly , the poor customer service.

      2. Hi Danuta,

        We are sorry to hear that you haven’t receieved contact from our Customer Relations Team.

        It may take up to 3-4 days for them to be in contact. If it has been longer than this, please email toyota.blog@tgb.toyota.co.uk with your contact and case details and we will look into this for you.

        Thanks.

    2. To be fair to Toyota, there not the only vehicle manufacturer targeted by criminals with dedicated technology to steal there vehicles. As quick as manufacturers improve there security systems, its not long until a new theft device appears to defeat it.
      I’ve even seen a video of a steering wheel lock cut off with a grinder so the thief could take a RAV4.
      You also have to remember that all vehicles no matter the manufacturer have a built in weak point thanks to EU regulations.
      An aftermarket alarm & immobiliser upgrade would be the best investment, as soon as the thieves attempt to access the vehicle a warn away sounds to let them know the vehicle has had a security upgrade & to leave it alone, any further attempt will trigger the full alarm.
      Toyota hybrids are extremely difficult to fit aftermarket immobilisers to successfully & also without trigging lots of errors, I do know of a company that has developed a bespoke security system for Toyota hybrids – I have it fitted to my Toyota.

      1. Lee, can you recommend the compoany that created the bespoke security system for toyota hybrid as i currently have rav4 hybrid 19 plate recently after our family land rover discovery sport got stolen so it made us to think twice about car security. look forward to read your reply.

      2. @Lee Seeing that you have a taken the necessary precautions by having a bespoke security system for your Toyota, could you kindly share the name of the company and upgrade you had installed as it would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

  8. I have a RAV4 PHEV on order and am shocked to find I need to have a Ghost Immobiliser fitted to keep the car safe. If this is an aftermarket addition, fitted by a specialist rather than the dealer, does it invalidate the Toyota warranty? The Dealer says this is a Toyota “matter” as they provide the warranty.

    1. Hi Colin, thanks for your question.

      Our Warranty Team have confirmed that the ghost immobiliser will be fitted by the dealer and not affect the warranty.

      Thanks.

      1. So I have a choice between risking the car being stolen if I don’t fit a ghost immobiliser or Toyota claiming the immobiliser has caused an issue with the car as a means of voiding the warranty. Not very appealing – time to cancel the order I think. Thanks for your help.

      2. Hi Colin,

        We apologise for the confusion.

        Our Warranty Team have confirmed that the ghost immobiliser would be fitted by your Toyota Centre and therefore not invalidate the warranty.

        Thanks.

      3. So would the local Toyota centre use an Autowatch approved installer to fit the Ghost to a vehicle?

        While the Ghost will stop the vehicle being driven away ( if fitted correctly ) I prefer an alarm & immobiliser upgrade to warn away the thieves as they attempt to gain entry to the vehicle so I went with that option.

      4. Hi Lee, thanks for your comment.

        If a customer sources and requests a dealer to fit a third party immobiliser, this will not void the warranty. However, should the fitment or operation be the cause of any issues with the car, the warranty would not support this specific claim.

        Thanks.

  9. I have a 15 month olds CHR and interrupted thieves who accessed the CAN and unlocked it in under 60 seconds. I know if I hadn’t interrupted them they’d have driven away with it.
    My dealer had no suggestions other than for me to secure it with a GHOST or STARLINE immobiliser, fitted independently!
    I understand all the security measures being recommended in the article and applaud the fact it’s been written BUT what responsibility is Toyota taking?There are no recalls, and no advisories – I just stumbled on this article looking up the hack the thieves used….
    Ultimately the only solution is I have to spend more money to secure a vehicle I was sold as secure, with a ‘Toyota Security System’.
    I find it shocking and appalling that a new £35.000 car can be ‘hacked’ and stolen in under 60 seconds and all you can say is buy a Stop Lock and fit a £1000 immobiliser!

    1. Hi David, thanks for sharing this with us.

      We are very sorry to hear that you’ve been a victim of this crime. We understand the distress this has caused and apologise for the inconvenience.

      We would recommend discussing this further with our Customer Relations Team. You can find them on 0344 701 6202 or https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre#/iframe/https%3A%2F%2Fforms.toyota.co.uk%2Fcontact-us.

      Once again, we are very sorry to hear about this situation.

      Thank you.

    2. I to own a C-HR & there is a bespoke aftermarket security solution available that upgrades both the alarm & immobiliser, as soon as the thieves attempt to access the vehicle the alarm will warn them away & if they continue it will fully trigger. The immobiliser also combats theft via CAN invader & OBD port.
      If someone from Toyota wishes to contact me via email I will provide the details of the company.

  10. Your initial reply to my question of 21st June at 9:33 has been amended. You initially responded by stating that the warranty would only be invalid if the fitting of a ghost immobiliser damaged or affected the car. I do not believe you should doctor the thread of comments in this way, otherwise what faith can we have that the comments are genuine and the answers are accurate?

    1. Hi Colin,

      We apologise for the confusion.

      We corrected the information supplied in the comment and would like to assure you that our comments are genuine and accurate.

      Thanks.

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