No area, property, or item is immune to theft. Gas stations, hotels, shopping malls, and any place where property and valuables are present is a likely candidate to be stolen from. After homes, vehicles are at the top of any would-be criminals list.
Similar to homes, many vehicle thefts are simply a crime of opportunity. Burglars see a car with its window down, find an unlocked door, see valuables inside, or a naive owner lets them take the vehicle for a ride before they “purchase” the vehicle. Preventing automobile crime is similar to guarding a home, and with common safety measures you’ll be able to keep the crooks away.
Car Theft Prevention 101
Always Lock Up
No matter where you are, lock your vehicle. Whether you’re parked at a shopping mall, in your garage, or on a ferry, lock your doors and close your windows. This is the first and most basic step in car theft prevention.
Never Leave Keys in a Vehicle
It’s especially common in northeastern states or states that experience extreme winters for homeowners to leave their keys inside of a vehicle as they warm up the car. No matter how trustworthy your neighbors are, burglars aren’t so honest.
Avoid leaving vehicles in a car, no matter how short of a time stint you’ll be away.
Remove Valuables from the Car
If criminals see valuables in a vehicle, they have an opportunity. Never leave important personal items in your car. This include wallets, purses, phones, sunglasses, or anything of value. If you absolutely must leave valuables in a car, place them in the trunk or out of sight. Always remove all personal information from your vehicle, including your license, registration, et cetera.
More Important: Remove all items that give them further access to your property. Garage door openers should never be left in a home, and spare keys should not be hidden in your vehicle. It’s common for vehicle manufacturers to share common locations for spare keys to be hidden, so if the public has access to this information online, so does a burglar.
Park With Caution
Consider all of the variables that could encourage a thief to target your car anytime you park it in public. If you have the option, always park in covered areas, garages, near security cameras, underneath light, or in high-traffic areas. Dark and vacant locations with no security equipment are perfect for burglars to strike.
Install Security Equipment
Just like you would secure a home, car security equipment will keep burglars away, or help law enforcement track your vehicle down if it is every stolen.
- A Stolen Vehicle Recovery System (SVRS) that helps law enforcement track stolen vehicles
- Installing kill-switches or cut-off switches that immobilize vehicles even if an ignition has been forced on. These switches will greatly reduce theft.
- Alarm devices with L.E.D. indicators that have sirens, horns, and lights.
- Motion sensors and other devices that alert if a vehicle has been touched or tampered with.
Never Assume the Vehicle is Safe
Just like your home, don’t simply assume your vehicle is safe because theft has never happened or the car is parked in safe location. Theft is prevented by being proactive and considering what types of theft scenarios are possible. If you think of them before they happen, it will be easier to put prevention measures in place.
Necessities if a theft occurs:
- Have a copy of your registration to identify the vehicle and prove ownership
- Memorize your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Place personal identification markers on vehicle to prove ownership. Common locations include tailgates, spoilers, and under hoods.
- Take photos of your vehicle with the license plate visible. These should be 360° pictures that show the vehicle in its entirety.
For further information on preventing auto theft, visit Protect America’s vehicle theft guide, “All Things Auto.”