01 January 2018
Gary Stretton tests and rates some quality products to keep your pride and joy secure
With Land Rover ownership comes the need to be aware of just how vulnerable your vehicle is to theft. Regardless of whether it’s a runner, long-term project in storage or a daily-use workhorse, your vehicle is desirable.
Stolen to order, stolen for spares or ringing purposes – it makes no difference; Land Rover thefts are regular, nationwide. So how do you deter thieves when, according to Thatcham Research, police only recover approximately 43 per cent of all cars stolen?
First of all, your attitude should be one of defence, and assume that given the right opportunity, your pride and joy could be gone in seconds. Let’s be honest, Series and Defender models can be accessed with a tin opener while newer vehicles’ locks and immobilisers are no guarantee either due to bypasses and key theft. The vibes your parked Land Rover should be giving are that you take security seriously and any attempts on it will be awkward, long-winded and preferably impossible. This is best achieved with high visibility products any potential thief will understand from a distance and take heed of.
Secondly, if a determined thief wants your vehicle and is prepared to wait for the opportune moment, they will likely succeed, which is why full insurance cover is essential. If your vehicle is stored a distance from your home thieves will in theory have more time to gain access to it, so thwarting them for as long as possible is essential.
Lastly, no one security product is guaranteed to prevent theft, so a layered approach is considered best. This means using more than one product for different methods of protection such as a wheel clamp in conjunction with a pedal lock.
A word of caution about locks. Insist on buying quality locks, preferably approved by a recognised professional body. I’m not a fan of radial tumbler locks but those tested here are approved by Locksmiths Association testing, hence their inclusion.
The products tested are made from robust, heavy metals so keeping them safely stored when on the move is important. Some have optional storage solutions which are very worthwhile, others can be restrained using spare seat belts or by attaching them to seat frames out of the way.
What to look for
When not in use, a security device should not be flying hazard in an accident
Ease of use: Fitting a security device should be easy enough for you to want to and remove it quickly as part of your typical use for the vehicle.
Steering wheel locks should deny access for steering wheel removal
Easily bypassed: Being able to access a steering wheel nut with a security device fitted will not deter thefts. Determined thieves will bring their own steering wheel, so ensure airbag types aren’t used on non airbag wheels if they allow access.
Additional features: Well constructed, thoughtful design will prevent damage from the device to the areas being protected.
Once fitted, vehicle cannot be driven
’ARDCASE PEDAL SECURITY
The steel cage credentials of ’ardcase make it an impenetrable box in a footwell, so anyone tampering will need the spectacle of the driver’s door open to access it. Made to measure if necessary, this is serious security.
• Prevents foot controls being used
• 3 mm steel plate construction
• Seven lever deadlock
• Bright green for visual deterrence
• Quick and easy to fit and remove
• Can be tailor made to suit your vehicle
Search for: Item: ’ardcase; landybitsnbobs.co.uk
Full encapsulation of the steering wheel
DISKLOK STEERING WHEEL LOCK
As a visual deterrent, Disklok is foreboding. A rotating metal case that adds a vital layer of protection to a steering wheel and its lock nut. Yes, it is large but with practice can be fitted in seconds. The key isn’t needed to lock it, so less fiddly than many to fit. The optional storage bag is a recommended addition.
• Fully protects the steering wheel from attack
• Rotates on the steering wheel so vehicle cannot be driven
• Highly visual deterrent
• Arm folds into the cover for storage and portability
• Various sizes available
• Thatcham Cat 3 Approval
• Unique key combination and spares available
• Optional carry bag with Velcro strips for anti-slip boot storage
Search for: Item: Disklok (Yellow or Silver); disklok.co.uk
Few products can compete with a wheel clamp as a visual deterrent
BULLDOG CENTAUR WHEEL CLAMP
It looks heavy and it is – 20 kg in fact. It took a good 10 minutes to unpack and assemble but once done, it’s easy to fit. The adjustable arms are set to the tyre depth and diameter, allowing the armour plating-like cover to be fitted in seconds. To release, simply remove the cover and slide the clamp away. It’s a clumsy unit to lift and store on board but it should prevent your vehicle being rolled away quietly.
• High security drill and pick resistant radial tumbler lock
• Heavy duty and highly visible
• Fully strengthened steel bottom arms
• Adjustable arms allow fitment to a variety of wheel sizes
• Prevent wheel nuts from being removed
• Insurance approved
• Sold Secure Gold Approval (Locksmiths Association)
• Meets Police approved standards
Search for: Item: CA2500; bulldogsecure.com
Once fitted, the lock obstructs considerably
BULLDOG STEERING WHEEL LOCK
The sturdy construction of this lock is evident when you use it, although it’s not cumbersome to fit or remove. Selecting one of the locking holes to match the wheel diameter is easy as is fitting and turning of the radial pin lock key. Best suited to vehicles with a protruding centre boss or airbag, as our Defender and Series III wheels could be removed with the Bulldog still attached. To store it, I fitted it to a rear seat lower frame where it couldn’t dislodge itself.
• Drill and pick-resistant lock
• Robust construction
• Highly visible
• Department of Transport approval
• Protective coating doesn’t scratch steering wheel
• Inside diameter of steering wheel rim – min 285 mm to max 365 mm approx
• Wheels with a rim diameter up to 4 cm
• Overall Length 630 mm
• Fits bulbous airbags that protrude by up to 20 mm
• Weight 3.9 kg
Search for: Item BW550, bulldogsecure.com
Fits in seconds and has good visual deterrence
STOPLOCK PRO STEERING LOCK
Stoplock Pro was the easiest to use on test. The pivoting straps wrap around the wheel (and preferably a wheel spoke) before being locked shut using the key. Once fitted, it is highly visible and obtrusive. On the move, it can be safely stored by fitting it to a seat frame, passenger support bar or spare seat belt for quick access. Ensure it fits your vehicle correctly as its design is best suited to airbag-equipped steering wheels.
• Very quick to fit and remove
• Fully attack tested
• Thatcham Category 3 approved
• 10,000 key combinations
• 10 year guarantee
• Replacement keys available
Search for: Item: HG 149-00; saxon-brands.com
Finding one product to hail as supreme winner in terms of security is not a this or that decision. Instead, it’s more accurately a case of this and that. The layered protection approach I mentioned previously is the best way to deter theft of your beloved Land Rover. This may be more expensive but taken as a percentage of the value of your vehicle, such an outlay is not excessive if you consider security pragmatically.
Steering wheel locks have their fans and critics but the three tested will deter the opportunistic joyrider and the more determined thief, provided they are correctly suited to the type of steering wheel being protected. If you can access the steering column top nut, the lock is useless against wheel removal. For this reason, and its full protection of the steering wheel rim, the Disklok comes up trumps. It’s a thoroughly effective design, easy to use and remove. Sure, it is large but if used with the optional carry bag it can be stowed away discreetly and safely. As a visual deterrent, it will make anyone considering tampering with your Land Rover think twice. Both the Bulldog steering lock and Stoplock have their merits, especially solid construction and quality locking mechanisms. The Bulldog Centaur wheel clamp is some piece of kit – rock solid, visually imposing and easy to use. It is however a big ask to carry it around in the back of your Land Rover although if you do, you’ll sleep at night. I think it’s best suited to vehicles stored remotely to your home or vehicles in storage and used occasionally.
The overall winner though, is the ’ardcase. Once fitted, it locks out all the key controls for driving your vehicle away. Solidly constructed with an excellent seven lever deadlock, it will frustrate most attempts at removing it. I like the optional ’ardsafe storage case and recommend its purchase too if you off-road or have limited onboard storage to keep it securely stowed.
Ideally, you would purchase all three, using ’ardcase and Disklok when out and about and the Centaur for prolonged inactivity or high risk use.
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