There were around 700,000 American cars and trucks stolen in 2013 and the number looks to be adding up to the same amount for 2014. According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 44 seconds. Unfortunately a vast majority of these vehicles are never recovered. While most auto owners are insured, it can be a major hassle to be compensated by insurance companies, and having your vehicle stolen leaves owners with the emotional scar of becoming a victim to theft. Some owners have a real connection with their prized rides and consider them to be part of the family. So how can you go about protecting your motor vehicle from amateur and professional thieves? We have put together a list of great tips to ensure you are doing everything you can to ward off any would-be criminals.
- Keep it Garaged: It is a known fact that vehicle villains look for cars that are easy targets. This includes cars parked on the street or in a driveway. If you have the ability, always park your car in your garage to add another barrier criminals will have to overcome to get access to your vehicle. You may even consider installing motion detector lights around your home, garage and driveway for yet another means of scaring off the bad guys.
- Keep Your Car in Great Condition: You might think that car thieves target the nicest car on the block, but the opposite is actually true. A well maintained car actually signals to carjackers that you care about your car which means you likely have taken the necessary steps to protect it. It will often be assumed that you have an alarm and or a stolen vehicle recovery system.
- Have a Visible Security Alarm Sticker and/or Burglar Alarm LED: Some sort of visual to let thieves know your car is protected is often a great deterrent. Even if there is not an actual security alarm installed, the statement that there is one is often enough to make the criminals move on. Of course having an actual burglar alarm is good protection as long as you remember to arm it. Some security alarm systems offer two way pagers that will alert you the instant your burglar alarm system is set off. This type of security alarm system is certainly a little pricier than the average, but can really pay off if it helps you catch the criminals
- Don’t Leave Valuables Out in the Open: Leaving valuables in plain sight like a wallet, purse, or expensive electronics might not get your entire car stolen, but it certainly makes it susceptible to a break in. A quick smash and grab can cause a considerable amount of damage and once they are inside your car, amateur thieves might change their minds and decide to take your car for a joyride.
- Park in a Safe, Well Lit, Populated Area: Avoid parking your car or truck in dimly lit or unpopulated areas. Long-term parking lots should also be avoided if possible. Try not to leave your vehicle unattended in bad neighborhoods or high crime areas. While this last tip cannot always be avoided, try to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right then try to look for an alternative place to park.
- The Club: We have all seen the big red metal bar that locks across your steering wheel to stop it from turning. Many of us have also seen instances where the car thieves simply cut through the steering wheel and slide it right off. While it is fairly simple to overcome, the simple truth is that The Club works well in protecting your car against bad guys that forgot to bring a hack saw. Even if they are prepared it is still easier to steal a vehicle without one.
- Hidden Kill Switches: Hiding a switch that must be activated before your car will start is an amazing way to stop would-be car thieves. Most car thieves are amateurs and do not possess the skill set to figure out how to override a kill switch system. They may know how to hotwire your ignition, but if they are ignorant to where you have hidden a secondary switch, your vehicle isn’t going anywhere. These can be installed with minimal tools and know-how or can be installed by professionals for a minimal charge relative to the cost of losing your car. Some owners can take this even one step further and have a fuel system kill switch installed as well.
- Common Sense: These last few tips are pretty much common sense, but believe it or not, are some of the main reasons thousands of vehicles are stolen each year. Lock your doors and roll up your windows all the way. Leaving easy access to your ride is like putting a sign on top that says “Steal Me.” You should also never leave your car running unattended. Too many times people have fallen victim to this. They think “I am just running into the convenience store for a few seconds.” Well, that is more than enough time for a thief to jump in and take off. Lastly, do not hide an extra key anywhere on the outside of your automobile. Criminals know the obvious places to look for these and believe us they will.
There are other steps you can take as well to help you recover your vehicle in the unfortunate event of it actually being illegally lifted. Consider a paid subscription to a service like OnStar if your car has the ability to do so. There are also 3rd party GPS systems available for vehicles that don’t have this functionality built in. These paid subscriptions have vehicle recovery systems available to help assist the authorities in recovering your automobile. If the city or town you live in offers LoJack coverage we highly recommend you take advantage of that. LoJack has a one-time fee for the equipment and installation. Police have special scanners that alert them to stolen vehicles in their area and allow them to track down the exact location of your stolen car or truck. It is our hope that following the tips we have gone over in this article will help you to protect your vehicle against theft!