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Security Issues

Theft of Figaro’s and Figaro parts and accessories has been on the increase and it may be appropriate to review security precautions on your vehicle. Firstly, it’s amazingly easy to get into a Figaro essentially because it has frame less windows and it’s a convertible.

Once inside – a thief can either steal items or drive away with very little effort and within a short period of time. Unfortunately Japanese home market cars of this era have feeble security systems – essentially because there’s very little car crime in Japan. Figaro car crime is lucrative! A stolen Figaro can be worth almost double its used car value if sold off in parts! Even easy- to- steal items can net the thief a small fortune – new cost of parts commonly stolen is given in brackets below:
  • Upgraded CD unit (up to £600)
  • Radiator grille (£300)
  • Set of hub caps & trims (£200)
  • Drivers side window switch (£150)

The Clarion CD/Radio has been targeted as it has a good re-sale value! Secure yours with tamper proof screws and make a note of the Serial Number.

What you can do

The best way of minimising the chance of a thief stealing your Figaro or its contents is to fit an alarm system. It doesn’t guarantee that your Figaro won’t be targeted, but in general, thieves are more likely to move on to a vehicle that’s not alarmed. There’s nothing very difficult about fitting an alarm system to a Figaro and there are many modestly priced systems on the market. We would however always recommend fitting an alarm which is Thatcham 1 approved (Thatcham is the motor industry approval body). One benefit of a Thatcham approved alarm is that many insurance companies will offer a premium reduction for cars fitted with such alarms. Essentially an alarm system should offer basic functions – other features are discussed later. The Figaro Radio is very easy to steal and can cost around £600 to replace. It can be secured for as little as £20 Read more
    • The alarm is armed from outside the vehicle using a remote fob. If fitted – the same fob operates the remote central locking system.
    • The doors, boot lids and bonnet are fitted with devices that sound the alarm if opened with the alarm armed.
    • An internal detector sounds the alarm if someone gets into the car with the alarm armed.

Activating the alarm will also activate an engine Immobiliser. This either makes it very difficult to start the engine or in some cases – stop the engine after a brief period.

If the alarm is triggered, it should automatically reset to provide ongoing protection. There are several manufacturers of Thatcham approved alarms – there’s a typical Thatcham Approved Cat 1 Alarm can be installed in your Figaro for around £300 no good and bad systems – they all tend to be to a standard. Clifford, Toad and Cobra are just three good brands you’ll find widely available. Note however that the Thatcham approval is only valid if the alarm is fitted by an approved company. A certificate will be issued for the installation – keep this safe and not in the car – your insurance company may want sight of it in the event of a claim.

Fitting alarms is generic – there’s nothing Figaro specific about the job. Check out at least a couple of local car security companies – they generally appear in Yellow Pages under Car Security or Car Alarms. A Thatcham 1 approved alarm system will cost of the order of £300 fitted. There are numerous “cheap” alarms available in the £30 – £60 (+ fitting) price range. However such systems may not be a good choice.

  • They may be no match for a professional thief
  • They may be troublesome – nuisance alarms can be a big issue
  • They may not be robust. In particular cheap central locking systems can be very troublesome.
  • Technical backup may be poor
  • Spare parts availability may be poor e.g. replacement for a lost fob.
  • There may be no interface to link to an existing or future central locking system
  • If you are on a budget – there are good basic alarm systems available

The budget Cobra A8510 can be DIY fitted for £90 from top manufacturers such as Cobra for around £90 for DIY fitting or around £180 professionally fitted. They come with full instructions and are reasonably straightforward to fit by a competent DIY person. If you wanted central locking – this would be an additional cost and would operate from the same remote fob as the alarm system.

We’ve already discussed the basic features of an alarm system. We list below some of the more common features on various alarm models – there are many more! Some of these features may be a desirable option for you – others may be a pain! The feature may be selectable – in other cases the feature cannot be bypassed carefully consider the features of a particular system before getting it fitted.

  • Valet mode. You can select the option of someone else to drive your car (e.g. a garage) without having possession of the alarm remote device.
  • Anti car-jack. System locks the doors when they’re closed and a few seconds after starting the engine.
  • If you’re careless (e.g. shutting the garage door with the engine still running) – you can be locked out of the car with the engine running!!
  • Anti tilt sensor. Sounds the alarm if the car is jacked up to steal the wheels or lifted to transport or tow.
  • Dual zone protection. Usually a voice warning if someone gets close to the car.
  • Personal / panic alarm. The alarm can be activated by a single button push.
  • Automatic window closing. Windows automatically close when alarm is armed. We would not recommend connecting this function on a Figaro.
  • Microwave internal detector. Essential for a convertible if you park with the top down. The normal ultrasonic sensor to detect entry won’t work with the roof down. The ultrasonic sensor normally supplied with an alarm package can be substituted for an optional microwave detector.
  • Turbo timer. A few upmarket alarm systems have a built in turbo timer which allows the engine to run for a period after removing the ignition key in order to protect the turbo unit. A very worthwhile feature for the Figaro.
  • Central locking. Most alarm systems can be supplied with remote central locking operated from the same fob as the alarm.

You could mark the Clarion CD/Radio with a UV Pen? The next step down from an alarm system is an immobiliser. This will minimise the possibility of the car being driven away, but will do nothing to prevent theft of vehicle parts or contents. It will also not prevent your car being towed away or loaded on to a transporter. Since alarm systems have an immobiliser built-in – it’s false economy to fit an immobiliser if you’re considering fitting an alarm in the future. As with cheap alarms – cheap immobilisers may not provide a good level of security. A good immobiliser will have what’s known as a dual circuit – it will isolate two different key systems which would give a thief some considerable difficulty in defeating. As with alarms – consider an immobiliser that’s Thatcham approved (Thatcham 2 approval for immobilisers)

Recommendations

We don’t sell or install car security systems so here’s our impartial choice of security systems.
  • Top of range Thatcham 1 alarm system is the Clifford concept 650 G5.
  • Budget on £300 professionally fitted – central locking would be additional (this alarm system has a built in turbo timer)
  • Basic alarm system Cobra G193
  • Budget on £90 for DIY fitting or £170 fully fitted – central locking would be additional Immobiliser system Cobra A8510
  • Budget on £40 for DIY fitting or £95 fully fitted. (this is a Thatcham 2 approved dual circuit system

Other Security Measures

Clarion CD Units
Original CD units in Figaros are particularly vulnerable. There’s a sizeable demand for units and in particular, those that have been reconditioned or upgraded by Clarion. It takes literally a few seconds for a thief to remove a Figaro CD unit using an electric screwdriver!! We recommend replacing the 4 cradle mounting screws with tamper-proof screws. Without the special key – the screws are very difficult to remove. Tamperproof screws come in various designs and are used extensively on electrical equipment, public transport and street furniture. Don’t use one way tamperproof screws – they’re not designed to be removed and you may need to remove your CD unit at some point! Make a note of the serial number of your CD unit and in the case of a theft – inform Clarion-Services and publish the serial number of Figaro forums.
Radiator grilles
A new radiator grille is around £300 – they’re sought after because they’re vulnerable to accident damage and often loose the plastichrome coating. They simply pull out with your fingers!! We recommend replacing 3 or 4 of the plastic clips with U-nuts and screws (you could use tamperproof self-tapping screws). The grille is still removable but it would be fiddly for and time consuming for a thief.
Bonnet badges
Theft of bonnet badges does occur – it’s not a huge problem and a new badge is around £35. They’re easily removed – they’re held in place by double sided adhesive tape. Usually no other damage is caused in removing the badge but don’t be tempted to fix it in place with strong adhesive – you’re likely to end up with more expensive damage if a thief tries to prise it off
Wheel trims and window switches
Both are very common theft items. Window switches will be protected to some extent by an alarm system. Consider marking the registration number of the car on the underside of trims and on switch bodies using a soldering iron. It obviously won’t prevent theft but will make life a bit more difficult for the thief!”

WE ASKED SOME OF THE FIGARO DEALERS FOR ADVICE

Darren from Leigh Car & Commercial
“To be honest we have heard this a lot later as well, we have two Figaro’s here that are insurance jobs where they have been broken into, we always subject a cat1 alarm, which is an immobiliser as well as a motion sensor alarm, if we can be of any help in advising any one please do not hesitate to call me on 07944 925755”

Recommends
Fitting a Cat 1 Alarm POA

Hamid from Wimbledon Cars
“We have had the same problem. Who ever is doing it knows about Figaro’s because they don’t brake in but somehow get in and take all the nice things like the stereo, electric window switches and any other extras like cup holders etc. without braking the windows. I have had 4 of my customers cars stolen in the past 4 months and in the last 8 years since I started never had any problems before so it’s a recent thing. I have alerted all my customers to this issue and a fair few have come back and had alarms or immobilisers fitted. We charge £85 for a Thatcham Cat 2 Immobiliser and £290 for a cat 1 Alarm/Immobiliser and central locking. Don’t really want everyone to think that Figaro’s are becoming a target of thieves because people will not buy them. But I realise that existing owners must know about this problem”

Recommends
Fitting a Thatcham Cat 2 Immobiliser£85
Fitting Alarm/Immobiliser and central locking £290

Adam at Figaro Imports
“Sadly I had a couple of customers units stolen recently, in one case having replaced there original stolen unit with a new Clarion refurb they nicked it again only 3 days later! I talked to David at Clarion and put the idea to him about some tamper proof screws perhaps I think he may be looking into it. Whilst it is straight forward fitting an alarm system I usually leave it to the security specialists since they have the relevant qualifications with the manufacturers and the insurance industry. If a car has been stolen with a Thatcham device declared on the insurance I’m pretty sure the insurance co. will want to see the relevant paper work and if the fitter wasn’t approved I think they may think twice about paying out.”

Recommends
Taking your car to a Security Professional with the relevant qualifications

Baz of Figaro Car Imports
“There are no major issues in fitting a security system to a Figaro. Fitting immobilisers without an alarm may be cheap, but they can be defeated in 10 minutes & does not prevent thieves from breaking into the car & stealing accessories. There are many good security systems but it’s advisable to have a Thatcham Cat.1. We charge £295 for a Thatcham cat1 system fitted by a Thatcham approved technician who has fitted over 100 systems to our Figaro’s. It’s possible for a good DIY operator to fit a security system, but it won’t be insurance approved. It’s a good idea to mark the radio with a UV pen so that it can be identified if stolen”

Recommends
Fitting a Thatcham Cat 1 £295 (Fitted by Thatcham Approved Technician)
Mark the radio with a UV pen so that it can be identified if stolen

Nick from Figaro Doctor
“As with any vehicle these days, Security systems are a must for Figaro’s. They have become the target of organised theft. An Alarm and an immobiliser would help most people sleep better. The key to this is to have a VISIBLE DETERRENT. (Even a flashing LED in the car could be a deterrent). The major issue with a figaro alarm fitting is time. The make of the alarm is not as important as the fitting. It should be THATCHAM CAT 1. Thatcham alarms can be fitted for about £350.00 and will also get some discount on insurance renewals. Also any alarm with a PIR will help. These can be fitted for as little as £100-150. Advise to take note of radio serial numbers, Have radio mounting screws replaced with security bolts”

Recommends
Fitting a Thatcham Cat 1
Ensuring the alarm has a flashing light
Make a note of your Radio Serial Number
Change the Radio screws for security bolts

What the Thatcham Standards Mean?

Category 1 – ELECTRONIC ALARM AND IMMOBILISERS
Alarm

  • Perimeter detection
  • Ignition detection
  • Passenger compartment movement detection
  • Inclination detection (Motorcycle only)
  • Audible warning with battery back-up power supply
Immobiliser

  • Passively set
  • Isolates a minimum of two operating circuits or systems, or a minimum of one operationally relevant vehicle control unit with coded intervention

Category 2 – ELECTRONIC/ELECTROMECHANICAL IMMOBILISER
Immobiliser

  • Passively set
  • Isolates a minimum of two operating circuits or systems, or a minimum of one operationally relevant vehicle control unit with coded intervention

Visit the Thatcham website http://www.thatcham.org/security

Don’t be a victim of vehicle crime!
By taking this advice you can help protect yourself from the cost, stress and inconvenience of vehicle crime.
  • Take valuables with you. If you can’t, then place them out of view in the boot or in a lockable glove-box. Make sure all electronic goods are switched off
  • Always remove Sat Nav’s or other equipment from view and remove any cradle or suction marks that could give away the fact that they may be in the vehicle
  • Immobilise and alarm your vehicle every time you leave it unattended
  • When parking, watch for people loitering around cars even if they are well dressed and don’t necessarily look like a ‘car thief’
  • When locking your car using your key fob always check that the vehicle has actually locked before you move off
  • Always park in a well-lit street or in a secure car park
  • At home, leave your vehicle overnight in a locked garage
  • Never leave your keys in the vehicle even for a moment, such as at petrol stations or to ‘pop’ back into your house/office
  • Keep your keys out of view in a safe place. At home, place them in a drawer away from doors, windows or the letterbox
  • When leaving your vehicle, check all windows, sunroofs and doors are locked and use deadlocks if fitted
  • Plan your journeys in advance to avoid stopping in unfamiliar areas
  • When driving, lock your doors and keep the windows closed
  • If your vehicle doesn’t have an alarm fitted as standard equipment, then have a Thatcham recognised alarm professionally fitted to your vehicle

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