Americans have a long-standing love affair with the automobile. We are a big country, with millions of miles of roads, and we just love to get behind the wheel. Many forms of crime are decreasing in frequency. Unfortunately, car theft is not among them, especially in certain geographic areas, and, car theft statistics show it is an ongoing problem. Police only recover about 50% of stolen cars. If you happen to be in that 50%, don’t expect to be happy. When you see your car again, it won’t be the same car you left the last time you parked it. The best idea is to take every possible step to make your car difficult to take. Here are some common-sense tips to help you avoid car theft.
Do you know people who have magnetic boxes they use to hide spare car keys in wheel wells or somewhere else on their car? We discourage this because there is nowhere on your car you can put the key that a car thief will not also look. Let’s face it – you are not going to roll under the car on a dolly looking for a really secure place, and anywhere that you can easily reach is also easily found. In addition, always keep track of all your car keys. If a car key is missing and may have been stolen, an automotive locksmith can replace the locks and make and reprogram replacement car keys so that the stolen key will no longer work.
1/3 of car thefts occur near the owner’s home. So, did you forget something on your way out to work? We all do, and it’s always when we are running late. Resist the temptation to leave the car running while you go back inside the house, though. Turn off the engine and lock the car, even though you are only leaving for a moment. It just takes a second and is a great way to avoid car theft.
Keep you car locked at all times, including when you are in it. One form of car theft is car-jacking, so you don’t want to allow someone to open the door when you are at a light. Don’t be fooled by a nice neighborhood, either. Bad guys find their way into good neighborhoods all the time. And, of course, when you leave your car, even in your own driveway, roll up the windows and lock the doors.
Many people leave the registration or insurance cards for the vehicle in the glove compartment. It seems so convenient; this way anyone who is stopped by police while driving the car has easy access to these documents. However, if someone steals your car, do you want that person to also know where you live? That’s just an invitation to burglarize your house, as well. These days, insurance cards are generally available on the insurance company smartphone apps, and you can photograph your registration and share it with everyone who drives the car.
To thieves, your car windows can be like a store’s display case. Anything that attracts the wrong person’s attention to your vehicle is bad. It’s true, he might just break into your car and steal the item, without stealing the car, too, but is that really a win? And, once the thief is already inside, he is one step closer to easily stealing the car.
There are many opinions regarding the effectiveness of car alarms. It is true that many times you are not near enough to your car to hear the alarm. It is also true that there are many false alarms and people tend to ignore them as a result. However, a good alarm system that makes a loud noise and flashes lights should be enough to scare all but the most committed thief away. And, there are alarm systems, such as LoJack, that connect with local police and allow them to track your stolen vehicle.
Many cars today come with immobilizers built in, which are a type of anti-theft device. They prevent someone from hot-wiring the car because the engine will only start if the immobilizer is disabled, and that only happens when the companion chip key is present. However, these devices do not sound an alarm if someone breaks into the car, and thieves have found ways to defeat the immobilizers by hacking into the vehicle’s computer.
Steering wheel locks like The Club have been around for decades. They are low-tech and highly effective tools that make it impossible to steer the car. It is difficult to steal a car if you can’t steer it. Apparently, though, while The Club is metal, the steering wheels are not. There are car thieves who carry small hacksaw blades that will easily cut through the steering wheel, so they can dislodge The Club. That said, anything that adds time to the act of stealing helps you avoid car theft. Thieves gravitate to the easier targets. So, while nothing is one hundred percent fool-proof, every deterrent helps.