Simple anti-theft tips for cars

Beef it up: Putting a lock on the steering wheel provides extra security and peace of mind for drivers. — SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

PETALING JAYA: With over 64,000 vehicles stolen nationwide since 2020, prevention with even the simplest anti-theft devices can be an effective defence from the preying eyes of thieves, says Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Additional locks, such as steering, pedal and gear locks could deter car thefts, it said.

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“And always park in an area covered by CCTV or in places that are well lit and with security guards. Never leave your car running and unattended, or unlocked, even for a minute.

“Installing global positioning system (GPS) trackers in a vehicle is also a reliable measure of tracing a stolen vehicle,” the CID said in a statement to The Star.

According to the CID, 73% of the 64,000 vehicles reported stolen were motorcycles followed by cars (22%) and the rest were heavy vehicles (5%).

However, police also found that vehicle theft had declined sharply since 2020 when 21,575 vehicles were reported stolen.

In the following years, the numbers were 13,432 in 2021, 14,446 in 2022 and 14,597 last year.

Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor are the three states with the highest number of cases.

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Police sources said the concerted efforts taken by the police and other agencies had reduced car theft cases in recent years.

Vehicle Theft Reduction Council of Malaysia coordinator (VTREC) Mas Tina Abdul Hamid said the movement control order during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a lower number of car thefts compared to previous years.

Even the gradual easing of the MCO had led to just a slight increase in car thefts cases in 2022.

“This is a great achievement by the government, agencies, private sectors and initiatives carried out by VTREC together with other stakeholders,” she said.

In addition to Bukit Aman’s prevention tips, police sources said that thieves would often go for easy targets and avoid vehicles that require too much effort to disable as it was time-consuming and slowed down their getaway.

They said special markings, large stickers and even flashy colours on cars could hinder a theft attempt.

Sand-blasting the car registration number on all the windows and windscreen is another feature that enables easy identification of a vehicle that is fitted with false registration plates.

While GPS systems and other high-end anti-vehicle immobilisers are useful, one source said they could be disabled by thieves who are equipped with sophisticated tools.

“They have signal jammers to interrupt GPS systems and other special equipment to disarm alarms or immobilisers. Hence, simple safety measures such as the use of a steering lock or a brake pedal clamp can go a long way,” said the source.

Road Transport Department (JPJ) senior enforcement director Datuk Lokman Jamaan said technology advancements had shifted the tactics or modus operandi of car thieves.

The department, he said, was upskilling its officers to ensure they are familiar with the latest developments.

He also said the JPJ had seized 3,770 “cloned cars” between 2014 and 2023.

“JPJ takes matters related to vehicle theft seriously. We will work towards reducing the number of cases through efficient enforcement and other preventive steps,” he said.

Lokman added that the department was always open to initiatives by the private sector or non-governmental organisations to help lower cases of vehicle thefts.

While stolen vehicles in the peninsula are usually smuggled by syndicates into countries such as Thailand, Myanmar and Laos through the Malaysia-Thai border, those stolen in Sabah and Sarawak often make their way to Kalimantan, Indonesia, where the demand for four-wheel drives is high due to the rugged terrain.

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