Our daily lives have a tendency to revolve around our vehicles; we use them to get to and from work or even to carry out our jobs, to do the shopping, to take our children to their daily activities and much more. It may seem like they’re simply a convenience – but when that convenience is taken away, you quickly realise just how invaluable your car really is.
According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, incidents of vehicle theft rose in 2015; 81,158 incidents were reported, an increase of 8% on the previous year. In addition, incidents of interfering with a motor vehicle, which can include attempted thefts, rose by 35%. It’s clear that this is continues to be a serious problem; but what’s the real scale of the impact?
Counting the Cost
For those affected, the costs can quickly add up. An average driver left suddenly without their vehicle may need to pay out for alternative transport, whether that’s public transport, petrol money for people offering lifts, or the cost of using a less efficient hire car. There may be an insurance excess to pay, and although you can claim back road tax, certain costs like services and MOT certification may come up sooner on your replacement vehicle.
All this is, of course, on top of the emotional impact that comes with being a victim of crime.
But what if you’re not an average driver?
Somebody who relies on their vehicle as an integral part of their job – for example, a taxi driver – has to face not only all this, but also a loss of income. Replacing the vehicle is more difficult, as you can’t simply use any old hire car for your work, it needs to be a properly licensed and plated vehicle, and in addition to the vehicle itself you may have lost vital equipment such as radios and meters. The time it takes to get back into business could be disastrous, particularly for a self-employed driver.
Vehicle theft is, therefore, something you hope will never happen to you – but you can do a lot more than simply hoping.
Prevention is Not Always Possible
Whilst it’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk of vehicle theft, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce that risk. After all, many criminals are opportunistic thieves, and ensuring that your vehicle is not an easy target makes it far less attractive a target.
There are certain obvious steps, such as never leaving your vehicle unlocked, parking in secure locations and using wheel locks or similar devices, but for the taxi driver (and other professional drivers) the nature of your work can make this difficult. You may not be able to choose where you park, and may need to leave the vehicle unattended whilst collecting the client and helping them with luggage; in addition the fact that a taxi is easily identifiable as such can make them a target for thieves hoping to find cash in the vehicle.
This is why insurance is so essential; if you can’t live without your car, then it’s vital to ensure that your insurance policy covers aspects like the provision of a replacement. Specialist needs require specialist cover; taxi insurance will help the unfortunate taxi driver get their business back on the road, and similar specialist policies are available for other professional drivers.
Recovering Stolen Vehicles Is Possible
Technology can provide invaluable help in recovering your vehicle if it’s stolen, or even in preventing the theft in the first place. Dash cameras and vehicle tracker systems can both help to dissuade the casual criminal and provide essential evidence to the authorities.
A dash camera may not seem a particularly effective choice – after all, if your car is stolen, so is the camera – but with the advance of wireless technology it’s now possible to get options which stream footage to a secure location, meaning that you may be able to identify both the thief and the location of your vehicle by reviewing the footage.
Tracker systems, however, are more effective – especially in terms of asset recovery. Your stolen vehicle could be recovered in as little as a few hours thanks to real time data which can be provided to the police. Because of the value of this information, use of these devices can help to bring down your insurance premiums and cut the cost of theft in the long term.
Vehicle theft is a worry to all drivers, professional and casual alike; but with the right precautions, it shouldn’t be something that keeps you awake at night.