Automobile theft is a preventable crime that affects more than just the owner of the vehicle. Insurance companies and lenders also feel the impact. Car theft raises insurance rates for everyone. Simple anti theft devices and basic precautions will help you keep your car where you parked it.
According to Progressive Auto Insurance, there are three primary reasons cars are stolen:
- 55% were unlocked;
- 34% left the windows open; and
- 6% left keys in the car.
The reality is that the majority of auto thefts are not professional jobs committed by thieves with "gone in 60 seconds" skills. In fact, most thefts are opportunistic and preventable. With that in mind, here are ten simple steps your can take to make sure your cars remains yours:
Keep Your Car Locked At All Times
When you walk away from your car, lock it. This means roll-up the windows, too. A window cracked open for ventilation is an invitation for a thief. I even make it a practice to lock my car when it's in the garage. You just never know, and the more difficult you make it for a thief, the better your chances of keeping your car "yours".
Never Hide A Key On Your Vehicle
This might seem to be pretty obvious, but you'd be amazed how often people hide keys in or on their car. Don't do it. Car thieves are criminals, but they're not stupid. Car thieves know all of the typical, and not so typical, hiding places.
Don't Tempt A Car Thief
By this is mean keep all of your valuable out of sight. Cameras, laptop computers, purses, wallets and packages are all very encouraging for a would-be thief. Cover your valuables with a coat or blanket, or put them in the trunk.
Make Sealing Your Car A Pain In The Neck
This is easy to do with a mechanical theft deterrent. You've seen them, it's called "The Club." The Club is a security bar that locks in place and prevents the steering wheel from being turned. This won't stop a professional who really wants your car, but it will slow them down. The Club and other devices like it can be defeated with a hacksaw by cutting the steering wheel.
Use A Car Alarm That Disables Your Car
If your car did not come with a factory alarm, buy an aftermarket alarm and have it professionally installed. There are many types of electronic car alarms, as well as other electronic deterrents. The best alarm is one that will disable the car from being started. Very few people pay much attention to alarm sirens anymore; they are simply an annoyance.
Keep Your Car Visible
That means paying attention to where you park. Always park your car in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Don't risk parking or leaving your car in high-crime areas. Likewise, avoid parking your car in places that are not well-traveled. Car thieves look for cars in dark alleys and deserted parking lots. The safest parking lots are those with attendants.
Make Your Car Difficult To Tow
It may seem counter-productive to your own needs, but avoid parking where your car can easily be towed. Car thieves often disguise themselves as tow truck drivers. If you park your car at the end of a block, you're an easy target. I know, I had my first Porsche stolen via tow truck. I had every safety device available on the car. They did a snatch-n-go and were gone in less than 3 minutes.
Shut Your Car Off And Take The Keys
Never leave your car running unless you are sitting in the driver's seat. It's amazing how many thefts occur at gas stations because a car owner leaves the car running while they run inside for directions. It can even happen in front of your own home, while you're waiting for the car to warm on a cold day. Be safe, when you get out of your car, take your keys with you.
Protect Your Name and Address
Do not leave information about you or where you live in your car for a thief-in-disguise to see. If you Valet park your car, or have the car worked on at a service center, be sure to take your registration with you or lock it in the glove box. Also, if your car comes with a valet key, give this key to the valet or service station, not your regular ignition key. Likewise, don't put your address or your car's license plate number on your keys. If you lose your keys, a thief knows where to pick up their new car.
Keep Your Original Car Registration & Insurance Documents Safe
Never leave your insurance or original registration documents in your car. Doing so makes it easier for a thief to sell your car after they steal it. I recommend making a copy of your registration papers. Write across the top and bottom of the copy "ORIGINAL MAINTAINED BY LEGAL OWNER".
Don't be a victim of ignorance. Follow these simple tips and you will drastically reduce the chances of your car being stolen.