Everything You Need to Know to Protect Yourself Against Car Theft
In this day-and-age thieves have become more sophisticated in their stealing techniques and car alarms are not always standard in all vehicles. As someone who owns a 2014 vehicle, the anti-theft standard setting on the model of my car does not even work. So, what can we do to avoid having our vehicles stolen? Well, we can start with the obvious which is either buying a car with a car alarm included or as an add-on. Alternatively, buying an alarm and having it installed. There are car alarms that can be purchased long after the car was. These alarms range in price from very inexpensive (there are some on the market under $20.00) to quite expensive. It’s important to consider how much you want to spend on a protection system. Some are quite easy to install (due to their lack of features) and some are a little more sophisticated, therefore harder to install and may require a professionals aid. Typically, when you buy a car alarm the store you are buying it from will have technicians that can install the alarm for you either complimentary or for a small fee. If you’re not sure exactly what you’re doing, it might be a great idea to leave the installation up to a professional in order to make sure it is done correctly.
There are also physical safety systems to prevent vehicle theft. These are things like a steering wheel lock. The advantage of a steering wheel lock, outside of the fact that it physically locks the steering wheel, is that they are clearly visible. It’s not always easy to see an internal security system, but a steering wheel lock is a big piece of metal that is quite obvious. Additionally, it usually is colored bright colors (like yellow or orange) to ensure that the device is obviously there. This is a security feature that may deter a thief from trying to break in at all and avoid any damage to the outside of the car period.
One off-topic note, if you have a car alarm, sometimes insurance companies will actually decrease your cost of insurance. If you end up purchasing a car alarm consider calling your insurance company to see if this is something they offer and the car alarm may end up paying for itself in the long-run.
The second item to consider is where your keys are. It was common growing up in rural Alberta, for people to leave keys in little cubbies of the car or under mats. Even creative hiding areas can be figured out by a criminal with time on their hands. The car should never have an extra set of keys in the car even if the car is locked from the outside. Many insurance companies won’t pay out for stolen vehicles when there were no obvious signs of a break-in or tampering (hot-wiring). To be safe, keeping the keys on-person is your safest option. It should also be noted, that even though sometimes we want to leave the car running whether it’s to keep the car warm or to warm the car up on cold days, or alternatively cold on warm days, leaving the car running unattended is the best target for thieves. It’s very common for thieves to wander around rural communities in the winter looking for vehicles warming up early in the morning. Rather than letting the car run, though unfavorable, invest in good mittens and sit in the car while it’s running to avoid an unexpected morning surprise.
Where and how you are parking is the third tactic to consider. When parking your vehicle ensure that the doors are locked and the windows are all fully rolled up. I’ve been guilty of forgetting that my sunroof is open, so take a second before leaving the car to check all windows and doors are locked especially when you don’t have automatic locks. When parking your car consider parking in well-lit areas preferably with security cameras. It may be difficult to find but if there are locked and monitored garages near, this is your best bet. Criminals are less likely to jack a car that can be seen from far away and, of course, will find it even more difficult stealing from somewhere secured. Street parking, on popular streets and avoiding back-alley’s, is advised if no secured building is available.
Note that there are devices that some criminals use when stealing vehicles which can actually jam up your automatic locking system between the time you get out and lock the car. Before walking away from your vehicle look to see that the doors are locked. Even consider just double checking the door is locked by lifting the handle of the car. It takes a couple extra seconds but this will take less time than having to find an alternative ride home.
The fourth tactic to consider is what is in the car. Because most cars have a full view of the car from the outside it’s important that there is nothing appealing within the car that may encourage a thief to break-in. If you don’t want to bring your purse or wallet into the place you are going then make sure that you are at least hiding those items. This is especially important with electronics like laptops or even easily removable speed detectors. If there is an area to hide those items (like a trunk or under the seat) make sure that you are stashing those items away. Leave as little as possible out in order to avoid the thieves temptation and to encourage them to steal elsewhere.
If in a situation where the car is already stolen consider tracking devices. There are some tracking devices on the market that help let you know where your car is at all time. Alternatively, there are some popular subscription-based communication services that aid in emergency situations and they can also block your car’s engine from starting up if they know that the car has been stolen. If you are just looking for a new vehicle or if you already have access to a vehicle with it included but don’t have it activated, it’s a secure method of not only keeping yourself safe but also in implementing a security system for your vehicle.
Something also to consider is to avoid leaving any personal information in your car at all. This will avoid having your identity stolen. Consider keeping your insurance and registration papers on your person rather than the glove compartment.
Sometimes we get into our car and immediately check our phone, or confirm our calendar, or fit in a quick game before continuing on our trip. This is something that may be unavoidable but make sure that after getting into your car you are at least locking the doors. Thieves will wait for you to get into your car and check your phone and take that as an opportunity to pounce. Be aware when in your car of the people around your car and, again, lock the doors immediately after getting in.
The final item to consider is the car you are purchasing. There are vehicles that are more commonly stolen than others. These vehicles are usually either easier to break into or they are luxury vehicles that are more likely to be sold for a greater profit. A quick google search will tell you what types of vehicles are more commonly stolen in your area. If you are just buying a vehicle consider looking at that list before buying. If you already own a vehicle, check to see if your vehicle is already on that list. If it is on that list then consider additional safety tactics to avoid being one of the statistics.
That concludes this article. We hope that it helped inform you on different options available to keep your property protected and also add a level of ease to your commute around questionable areas.
- Forbes – Common Stolen Cars
- On-Star – Subscription-Based Communication Systems
- Esurance – Car Theft Prevention