Thames Valley Alert – Preventing Vehicle Crime


You may not automatically think of CAKES when it comes to vehicle security, but this acronym can help you prevent your vehicle becoming a target for criminals.


C: Contents – keep these out of sight or take them with you – it should go without saying that wallets, handbags, purses and credit cards should never be left in an unattended vehicle. If you have any high value items such as specialist / trade tools, remove them from the vehicle overnight. It is a good idea to mark and photograph them, make a note of the serial numbers and register them online at a property register site.


A: Alarm and lock it – even if you’re only going to be away from it for a moment. If you have an alarm ensure it is set properly and your vehicle has locked ALL of the doors. If your vehicle has wing mirrors that fold in automatically when locked, make sure you lock it properly. Criminal gangs are looking for vehicles like these where the wing mirrors are still out because it is clear to them that the vehicle has been left unlocked.


K: Keys and Keyless Entry – keep your keys out of view and away from your front door to prevent thieves fishing for them with a stick and hook through the letterbox. If you’re selling your car and meet up with a potential buyer, do not allow the keys out of your sight as they may be swapped or cloned and used later to steal your vehicle.

Keep your keyless entry fob (and the spare) well away from the car when at home and turn off wireless signals on your key fob when it’s not being used. Put the key fob and spares in a screened or signal-blocking pouch, and check if the bag or pouch is still working every few months. Reprogramme your keys if you buy a second hand car.


E: Extras – Additional physical security can help prevent your vehicle being driven away even if a thief gains entry such as steering wheel locks, pedal boxes and gear stick locks. Speak to your vehicle dealership about immobilisers which can prevent a vehicle from starting unless the correct fob, key or activation process is used. They can be personalised so that you’re the only one who knows how to unset it via a number of dashboard controls. Secure your number plates with tamper-resistant screws and consider fitting locking, anti-tamper wheel nuts to secure alloy wheels. Secure anything that’s on the outside of your vehicle such as holiday top boxes, roof-racks and tailgate racks. Ask your car dealer for advice on locks or guards that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer to keep your catalytic converter safe. You should also register your converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of.


S: Say something – If you have any information about crime in your neighbourhood, say something. If you know where suspected stolen vehicles are, please tell us. Report suspicious activity such as strangers loitering in your neighbourhood, a vehicle cruising the streets repeatedly or someone peering into cars and windows or trying to open them. If it is safe to do so, note down descriptions of individuals and details of vehicles and occupants and report it online at or call us on 101. If you see a crime taking place dial 999. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on free phone 0800 555 111.