When renting a car abroad especially, we are easy targets for thieves. Firstly, most hire cars will have a branded sticker which makes your rental car easily identifiable. The key to stopping theft of a rental car is to not provide opportunity. The first step is awareness, so you are in the right place.
Thieves know that you are less aware of your surroundings and have more on your mind when you’re using a rental car. You may be focused on staying relaxed, or your destination, rather than how safe you are being.
Thieves may even see the opportunity to drive a rental car for the fun of it, as they know it is a rental. If this is the case, they will likely leave it open and abandoned somewhere else.
Common Theft Scams
There are a few scams that experienced thieves may use to steal rental cars. You could check that these have not occurred when you get back to your car. If you have a reason to think you are being targeted by thieves, contact the police.
- Thieves may place a sharp object beneath your wheel and then follow you until you breakdown to ‘help’ you.
- Thieves may stage an accident so that you stop and help, so if in doubt, steer clear of strangers, especially when you have a rental car in a new place.
- Thieves may bump into your car from behind so that you get out. This can be very difficult to handle but remain on the lookout.
Tips for avoiding theft of your rental car
While you don’t want to ruin your holiday with worry, there are a few precautions you can take to minimise the risk.
Keep your keys close
The most obvious point is to be highly aware of where your keys are. Thieves may follow you for a little while once they spot you are a tourist. They may do so until they see the chance to take your keys when you are focused on something else, such as paying for petrol or navigating around a new place. Thieves only need a minute to take your keys in this scenario.
Hide any signs of electrical valuables
Hide or remove any charging cables for phones, sat navs or other electricals when you leave your car. Even if you take valuables with you, this might encourage thieves to break in to your rental car.
Park in safe places
Avoid parking in places that look dangerous, have glass on the floor or are not publicly visible. Ask locals that you trust, such as employees in places you visit, where the best place to park is. Moreover, thieves will stick to the areas that have proved successful in the past, so this is another reason to ask locals.
Make your rental car seem local
You can make your rental car less attractive to thieves by ensuring it is not really obvious you are a tourist. Hide any tourist maps and guides. If you are feeling especially clever, you could place a local newspaper on one of your seats. Keeping your car tidy and organised, especially with holiday items like towels, also reduces the risk.
For maximum peace of mind, make sure you get comprehensive insurance on your rental car. This insurance will help in the uncommon but somewhat unavoidable case of theft. Usually, valuables do have to be removed for these policies to cover you, so make sure you do this as well. If you have to take valuables with you, ensure they leave the car with you or are out of sight before you get to your destination. This avoids thieves spotting the opportunity.
Pick your rental car wisely
This is especially true of convertibles, so pick a rental car that is sturdy and built with safety measures like reliable locking systems. At the same time, the more valuable the car the more attractive it will be to thieves, so balance the reliability with a rental car that blends in. Don’t choose the flashiest car the company has, especially if you are driving it somewhere with higher crime rates.
We offer a range of annual, worldwide, European or holiday car insurance. Other insurers will try to sell you additional waivers at high prices. At Direct Car Hire Excess, we pay the excess on valid claims. Get a quote with us today to protect yourself from car key loss, injuries and whatever else you are worried about.