Understanding And Preventing Car Theft

by msecadm4921

Author: Michael Maxfield and Ronald Clarke

ISBN No: 1-881798-53-4

Review date: 29/11/2023

No of pages: 248

Publisher: Willan Publishing

Publisher URL:

Year of publication:


A book on car theft raises some very real issues for the security industry, according to our reviewer in our March print issue.

Understanding and Preventing Car Theft considers the relationship between the development of safety and security systems in vehicle design and the influence of administrative systems on designing out crime. It also discusses the issues of ‘responsibility’: car owners are obligated to use the security products built into the cars they drive; and ‘competency’ – those who make cars and whose responsibility it is to build into them competent security devices. First an overview of the many useful chapters.

A misunderstanding, particularly among manufacturers and Government, that the authors quickly address, is that car crime could in some way be considered a non-serious offence that does not warrant preventative or enforcement attention. In an excellent discussion of the impact of the UK Car Theft Index on the thinking of manufacturers and policy makers regards car crime, Prof Gloria Laycock of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science advances the argument that consumer choice, informed by accurate and accessible data on crime and risks provided a lever that has assisted in the reduction of crime. Another chapter, again authored by JDI academics, describes the really interesting use of designing out crime principles to the administrative systems of vehicle licensing and registration.

For those security professionals who are asked to commission the design of their company’s warning notices there is a very thought-provoking chapter, on effectiveness of crime reduction publicity campaigns. For example this chapter advises that messages aimed at deterring offenders, should be: specific and multi-lingual if in areas with a diverse community; targeted to a defined geographical area and time period; and explain what will happen if the warning is not heeded. In light of this, it is perhaps necessary to ask if the warning notices displayed outside premises by security companies are an effective investment if they have no deterrent value. The book also draws upon a number of international perspectives including car crime in Australia, use of temporary vehicle registration plates in the United States – a veritable licence (please forgive the pun) to commit crime and the impact of secure car parks in California on vehicle thefts.

Returning to my opening thoughts this book raises a number of considerations. Taking the example of the UK Car Theft Index, security managers may wish to ponder the potential influence of consumer choice upon selection of security products and services. Is there a role, as with the theft index, in seeking to raise consumer knowledge of security purchases? How might that be achieved? If such knowledge leads to consumers choosing to purchase more effective security systems or services, could it be suggested that the quality, and potentially the cost, might rise in proportion?

As regards the development of administrative systems in designing out crime, it may be that there is a relationship between the increased skills and abilities of security staff and providers, achieved through the licensing of the security industry, and subsequent reductions in crime. Perhaps the industry may wish to consider funding a suitable research project to determine the long-term impacts of such an administrative change on reducing the risks faced and losses suffered by customers. In conclusion, if a book is to be assessed by its ability to make one think then this publication is worth its weight in gold.

Martin Wright


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay on top of security news and events.

© 2023 Professional Security Magazine. All rights reserved.