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. Hello,
    I would like to know if a secondary cat2 approved Thatcham would be compatible with a RAV4 hybrid y 2020 ?
    Could you please advise which one?
    Can I get it fitted by a Toyota Dealer?
    If fitted by a third party would it void Toyota waranty?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Georges, thanks for getting in touch.

      Please can you provide your vehicle registration so that we can look into this for you.

      Thanks.

      1. Hi Georges,

        We would need the full vehicle registration to look into this for you.

        Alternatively, we would recommend contacting your local Toyota Centre regarding this.

        Your centre is best placed to advise on warranty and servicing. You can locate your nearest centre here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/find-a-dealer

        Thanks.

  2. Following on from George’s request above, I too received a request from your colleagues at Toyota Insurance.to install a second Thatcham CAT2 approved immobiliser on my RAV4 Hybrid (2021) on my insurance renewal.
    Contacting the dealership, I was fobbed off that the installation isn’t offered as its factory fitted and I should go to a specialist installer.
    The question therefore still remains, is the car warranty affected in any way as Toyota do not have any approved installers to recommend.
    Can you / Toyota provide a disclaimer please if the install is by a installer who is certified to do so by Thatcham.
    I do not wish to share my car details on a public forum, but can provide you directly if you provide me with an email address to my email account.
    Please advise.

    1. Hi Sonal,
      We sincerely apologise for our delay in getting back to you.
      Is this query something you still require assistance with?
      Thanks.

  3. Hi I recently purchased a Toyota CHR 2019 Dynamic. You have recommended the Stop Lock Pro Elite steering lock, however on the application guide for the product, it states “No compatible Stoplock® product” for models 2017 and onwards. Kindly advise.

    1. AFAIK Toyota safety sense version 3.0 which your Corolla should have if its a 20MY vehicle means the CAN system encryption hasn’t been cracked YET so its safe from CAN invader theft.

  4. Hi,
    I am looking to place an order for a new RAV4 but am concerned about its vulnerability to theft.

    Have any new security features been introduced by Toyota on the 2023/2024 RAV4 PHEV GR Sport to make it less car susceptible to theft?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Dharmesh, thanks for your question.

      We are pleased to hear of your interest in the Toyota RAV4!

      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:

      https://www.toyota.co.uk/find-a-dealer

      Thanks.

  5. Our RAV4 2022 was stolen last week using the exact CANBUS technique. It took less than 2 minutes for them to steal the car. They easily disabled the MyT car locater and the car’s location did not update the second they moved the car from the parking. The dealership told us Toyota cannot track the location of the car anymore. I am hugely disappointed by the level of ignorance Toyota is showing here. Hundreds of RAV4s were stolen in the span of a few months because of a clear engineering flaw that Toyota has been well aware of and still, Toyota has done nothing about it. Not even contacting RAV4 owners and informing them about the issue. The mobile app and its tracking ability that was marketed as an add-on when selling the car is useless and Toyota is unwilling to do anything about it. I believe there are enough RAV4 owners out there to take Toyota to court if Toyota continues ignoring this issue and keeps repeating that they are monitoring the situation while owners are suffering huge financial losses and insurance premium excess!
    The amount of stress that Toyota car owners and their families are going through is unbelievable. We have bought more than 10 cars from Toyota in the last 5 years in our family and I promise you we will never ever get close to a Toyota car in the future.

    1. Hi Ali, thanks for your comment.

      We are very sorry to hear you have been a victim of this awful crime. We wish to extend our sincere sympathies.

      Please be aware we are constantly monitoring this situation and are doing all we can to support our customers that have been impacted by this.

      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.

      If you would like to raise your situation further, we would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team directly. You can do so here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre#/

      Thanks.

      1. Retrofit metal security plates to stop thieves getting at the headlamp connector plugs, charge the customer for the privilege then finally fix the CAN vulnerability with the next generation RAV4 due in about 12 to 18 months time.
        I have seen Toyota in certain European markets have now taken additional steps to protect newly delivered RAV4 by fitting the Toyota Enhanced Security System to the vehicles.

      2. Could you please elaborate what kind of support you are providing for customers like us who are affected by this security flaw that Toyota has been well aware of it?
        It is impossible for us and I believe any other RAV4 owner whose car is stolen to own a similar car again without a huge financial loss. Just to give you an idea, the price of RAV4 Design has increased from £32 k in 2022 model to £39k in 2023 model. The Toyota’s financing rate for PCP has increased from %1 for 42 months term in 2022 to %8.9 in 2024. This is alone is a £16k additional cost which translates to a double monthly payment. Add to this the cost of insuring a RAV4 which jumped from £1k to whooping £4k. Let alone the cost of not having a car for almost 2 months as the motor insurance company and Toyota Insurethat company taking their time to settle the claim. In another words, it is impossible for most of affected owners to own a car anymore.
        Now what support you are willing to provide to compensate a financial loss in the range of £20k that your loyal customers are suffering because of Toyota’s unwillingness to inform their customers about the security flaw and fix it? The only support I got was to be chased by your dealership to be sold another car which was quite insulting.

      3. Also, I did contact your colleagues at Toyota GB as you suggested to see what kind of support Toyota provides for affected customers. They said literally “nothing they can do for us”. I asked them to formally communicate this to us by email and they accepted. But they haven’t sent anything after the call.

  6. Hi I have a Toyota yaris hybrid 2022 model and would like to know if it has a lock inside the car to use in an emergency if someone tries to open my car door while I am stationary?

    1. Hi Sophia, thanks for getting in touch.

      Please provide a vehicle registration so that we can look into this for you.

      Thanks.

  7. Hello, I am a new Toyota customer of 9 mths, I have a 21plate CHR GR sport which was recently stolen via the CAN BUS method. I am truly disappointed in Toyota. I was let down by the App which has an issue that Toyota are aware of. After locating the vehicle and having it repaired by Toyota I am advised Toyota have nothing to offer in terms of protecting the vehicles CAN, or the OBD. I’ve had the car 9 mths on finance only to be advised I will be responsible for a liability fee to exit my agreement. Toyota have taken zero responsibility or accountability for this security issue thus far and offer no support to their customers. I have had the car back for a couple of days I feel extremely anxious and paranoid and always on edge that it will be stolen again despite purchasing a steering wheel lock. Can you advise whether there will be a recall in the near future for CHR’s and others vehicles alike at risk of being stolen?

    1. Hi Ally, thanks for your comment.

      We’re really sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime. We appreciate the frustration you are experiencing, but you are taking the best precaution with the steering lock. You may also wish to look into fitting a secondary immobiliser. Whilst this is not something we offer as Toyota UK, it is something that your local Toyota Centre will be able to advise further on.

      As for your finance agreement, this is something you would need to continue to discuss with Toyota Financial Services.

      Thanks,

      Toyota UK

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