Having a car broken into can be devastating, expensive, and time consuming. Whether it’s a smash-and-grab job or a thief actually drives off in a vehicle, most of us know someone that has fallen victim to vehicle theft. Some of us may have even fallen victim ourselves. This article will teach you how to prevent car theft by making your vehicle an unlikely target and making it harder to steal if it is targeted.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 357,000 people filed insurance claims for stolen vehicles in 2006. With that many vehicles being stolen in the United States each year, one could imagine how many more are broken into. The tips below will make it very unlikely that you will become one of those numbers.
- Never leave the car running. I know what you’re thinking, obvious, right? In any public area, even if you are just leaving for a minute, a car that is already running is a perfect target for thieves. That being said, if your car is in front of your home during a freezing winter morning, leave it running and keep an eye on it from some place warmer.
- Keep windows up and doors locked. Another easy one. A parked car with the windows down is like an open invitation for a thief to come check out what might be inside worth stealing. Of course, it may even lead to the car itself being stolen. If the windows are up, like they should be, having the doors locked provides a layer of protection if a thief still decides to target your ride.
- Do not keep a spare key in your vehicle. It’s just a bad idea to do this. Be responsible and keep track of your keys. Do you really want someone to be able to break in, grab the key, and drive away? Of course not! If you absolutely insist on leaving a spare key, keep it well hidden so that anyone else would be very unlikely to find it.
- Park in well lit areas near other cars. Similar to home burglaries, lighting is one of the most effective ways to prevent car theft. Parking in the light near other cars will increase the difficulty of breaking into your car without getting caught. This will stop most crooks from even trying.
- Stash valuable items in the trunk BEFORE you get to your destination. If thieves see you put items in your trunk after parking, your vehicle is much more likely to be targeted. Stow away any valuable items that you have to take with you in the trunk before leaving the house.
- Keep accessories out of sight. Seeing a GPS charger or USB charger in the interior can make bad guys think you might be hiding something valuable. A car that looks empty is unlikely to be broken into.
- Install an anti-theft system. Most newer cars already come equipped with a car alarm. Older cars, however, are not likely to have an anti-theft system installed. Coincidentally, older cars are stolen more often than newer cars. While you most likely do not want to spend large amounts of money on an older vehicle, a simple mechanical device like the club can definitely help prevent car theft.
- Consider VIN etching. On expensive vehicles VIN etching is an excellent way to prevent theft. VIN etching is a simple process where the VIN number of your vehicle is etched onto additional parts like the windows and doors. Thieves then have to replace those parts to profit from your vehicle. Most dealers can perform VIN etching for you and some insurance companies will lower your rate if you decide you want to do this.
- Check theft stats before buying a new vehicle. Some vehicles are more likely to be stolen than others. There are many reasons for this including total value, the ease of which a vehicle can be stolen, and the resell value of individual parts from a vehicle. This link from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allows you to see the theft rate for a ton of different vehicle models.
- Keep your insurance and registration cards hidden or out of your car. If your car does become stolen, keeping your insurance and registration cards out of your car will prevent a thief from presenting them to a police officer if they get stopped.