Car Vandalism – 7 Tips to Avoid it Happening to You
Car vandalism is very upsetting – arguably even more so because it’s deliberate. Knowing that someone has intentionally damaged your property, but not knowing who or why, is a disturbing thought.
Was it a neighbour with a grudge? Someone who didn’t like the way you parked? Or just a random passer-by causing trouble? Either way you’re left with the hassle of sorting out the mess, possibly at your own expense.
Car vandalism can include damage caused by:
- Being keyed (scratched with car keys or another sharp object)
- Smashed wing mirrors, windows or lights
- Slashed tyres
- Damaged rims
- Snapped windscreen wipers
Some forms of car vandalism are purely cosmetic and depending on the severity, you may choose to repair the damage yourself. In more serious attacks, however, where the costs of repair are significant, you may need to make an insurance claim (if you have comprehensive cover) to help cover the costs.
How to prevent vandalism to your vehicle
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent vandalism to your vehicle, there are various steps you can take to help limit the chances of it happening:
- Use your garage. If you have a garage, use it! It’s estimated that just 22% of homeowners use their garage for parking their car, but this is probably the surest method of keeping it out of the reach of vandals. Clear out the clutter, take an extra two minutes when you arrive home and lock the garage securely behind you. It’s now going to take a very determined effort to vandalise your car – an unlikely scenario by a random passer-by.
- Light it up. If a garage isn’t an option, try to park close to your house in a well-lit location. Vandals are often random opportunists, but few are stupid enough to risk being seen or recognised too easily. A driveway is ideal, especially if it’s illuminated by motion-sensor lights, but underneath a street light is a good idea, too.
- The watcher on the wall. Is your car valuable or expensive to repair? You might consider installing a CCTV security system to monitor your driveway. It’s a more expensive option, but has the added bonus of not only putting off car thieves and vandals, but potential house burglars, too.
- Sound the alarm. Install a Thatcham-rated alarm if your car doesn’t have one factory-fitted. While car alarms are mostly commonly associated with preventing theft, they can also put off would-be vandals who don’t want to draw attention to themselves.
- Remove temptation. Some vandals might be motivated by causing mindless damage, but others are playing for higher stakes. A smashed window might be just a smashed window, or it could be an opportunity to grab your valuables. Remove the temptation; take anything of value out of the car when you park, or at least hide them in the boot or glove box.
- Record the evidence. A fitted dash cam isn’t only useful for recording events while you’re driving. Some dash cams have a “parking mode” feature which means they carry on recording even after the ignition is turned off. GPS is disabled to save power consumption, so they can carry on recording for longer. A dash cam might not discourage all vandal attacks on your vehicle, but it might prevent the more perceptive criminal from going anywhere near the car. And if the worst should happen, you may even have some useful footage to shed light on the crime.
- Don’t leave car windows open. You’re inviting vandals to throw in general rubbish, flammable items such as cigarettes, liquids, toxic or hazardous substances. Some of these may do enough damage to destroy your car, others will simply be a headache to clean up. And if you’ve left your windows open, your insurance may not cover you for any repairs, as most insurance policies require you to take reasonable precautions to prevent the incident from occurring.
Statistics about car vandalism
According to a Freedom of Information request by the RAC, reports of vehicle vandalism rose from 191,180 in 2013 to 210,418 in 2016, a 10% increase.
The region with the most reports was London (26,064), accounting for 12% of the total. Conversely, Dyfed-Powys Police reported the lowest (1,566) outside of the capital.
But these are only the reported vandalism crimes and the actual numbers are probably much higher.
For more information on crime prevention, see the Crime and Policing website.
What to do if your car has been vandalised
If you’re the victim of motor vandalism, the first thing you should do is document the incident. Take photographs of the damage, check any CCTV or dash cam footage you might have, and if it happened while parked at your home, ask your neighbours if they witnessed or heard anything unusual.
If your vehicle was parked in a public or business car park covered by CCTV, ask them to review the footage for evidence.
Unfortunately, stretched police resources mean it’s unlikely they’ll launch a full-scale investigation into a one-off incident of car vandalism, but you should still report it by calling the non-emergency number 101. Ask for a crime reference number – if you’re going to make a claim on your insurance, you’ll probably need that.
As for repairing the damage, you might want to assess the cost before deciding whether to make an insurance claim (if you’re covered) or repair it yourself.
Does insurance cover vandalism to your car?
Comprehensive cover will usually cover acts of vandalism to a vehicle, but you should check your insurance documents to be sure.
To make a claim, your insurer will want to know details such as date and time, location, photos or video evidence and a crime number, if you’ve reported it to the police.
If you’re claiming from your insurance company, you will need to pay the policy excess. For minor repairs such as replacing a wing mirror, the excess might be more than the cost of the repair. You don’t have to make a claim if completing the repairs yourself, but you have to notify your insurance company to accurately underwrite your policy.
Will my no claims bonus be affected?
Vandalism is usually classed as an “at-fault” claim by insurers because they can’t recover costs from the unknown vandal, which means you may lose some or all of your no claims bonus if you decide to make a claim. Some insurers now include no claims bonus protection for vandalism damage, so check the details of your policy to see how your claim will be affected.