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Secure your investment

Rising property crime makes motor vehicle security even more important. The latest car alarms and electronic security equipment are more sophisticated than they've ever been. With improving products that are more effective and less likely to trigger inadvertently, the days of squawking alarms sounding needlessly are largely gone.

Older cars are five times more likely to be stolen because they're easier to break into, easier to start, and probably won't have any security equipment. Cars between 12 and 13 years old are at the greatest risk of theft. Three out of every four vehicles stolen are seven years of age or older, so i t's clearly in your own interests to make sure your vehicle is as secure as it can be.

A Measure of Protection

-ignition cut-out switch or ignition shield

-fuel cut-out switch

-battery isolator

-steering wheel lock

-handbrake lock

-transmission lock

-wheel lock and lockable fuel cap and wheel nuts

-vehicle alarm system

-datadot UV trace

-window etching

DataDot is a spray-on, invisible polyester, containing coded dots the size of a grain of sand. The code shows up under UV light and is applied to vehicle components and can't be removed.

Window etching the 17-digit VIN number of your car on to all the window glass will also deter thieves because they'll have to replace the glass if the vehicle is sold on.

Global Positioning Systems are hidden in your vehicle, and updates its' position to a command centre. If stolen, tyou can then track it down.

There's a host of alarms, ranging from a glass breakage deterrent to ultrasonic motion sensors. Upcoming fingerprint car immobilisers prevent the car from being started without fingerprint verification even if the right key is being used.

It's worth noting that insurance companies offer discounts for cars fitted with approved security devices, and discount the premiums for simple measures such as garaging.

Be on your guard when buying and selling

Security begins when you go to buy your used car from a private seller. It is desirable to be "streetwise" right from the start. Be wary of an advertisement specifying a time to phone, as you could be ringing a public phone or an address of an associate of the seller. When phoning, don't describe the vehicle - that way you'll know if the seller is an unlicensed dealer.

Always visit the seller's address - don't let the seller bring the car to you or meet the vendor at a service station or public park. A dishonourable seller is unlikely to let a prospective buyer visit a home address. When you visit the vendor's address, look around for other vehicles or parts in the garage or driveway, and try to establish if the seller actually lives there.

Ask to see registration papers, any service records, check engine, chassis and VIN numbers, and run a check on ownership title.

The New Zealand police recommend contacting Auto Check (0800-909-777). Provide them with the registration number, chassis and VIN numbers, and they will advise any outstanding hire purchase or financial interests.

Remember there is much less legal protection when doing private-to-private vehicle transactions.

Simple car crime prevention

If your stereo has a removable face, don't leave it in the car.

Find a good place to park where it is busy or lighting is good.

Keep doors locked and windows rolled-up, even on short journeys.

Never leave keys in the ignition. If your car is unattended, lock it when you pay for fuel at service stations.

Don't leave keys on desks in offices. A car dealership lost a vehicle from a yard recently, after the thief simply picked up the keys from a salesman's desk.

Auto Trader New Zealand