Did you know that motor vehicle theft costs Americans almost $6 billion every year? Or that in a couple of minutes, an experienced car crook can unlock your vehicle without a key? Yes, the overall rate of car theft has declined over the last few decades, but there’s still a risk that your vehicle might be stolen.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take avoid becoming a victim of car theft. Here’s what you need to do:
1) Invest in a steering wheel lock
A conventional locking system such as a steering lock can help prevent thieves from running away with your vehicle. It locks into the steering wheel of your car and immobilizes it. No one will get far with a car they can’t steer.
2) Hide your valuables
Untidy cars attract car criminals. Don’t leave any credit cards, personal documents or paperwork inside your vehicle. If you have to keep such items in your car, make sure to hide them from plain sight (the trunk is a good place to store them). Keep in mind that hiding your valuables while you’re in a parking lot can also be tempting for criminals who may be spying from the other side of the lot. Hide them before you reach the parking lot or be discreet if you must tuck them away while parked.
3) Park in well-lit areas
Bright driveways and parking lots are an excellent deterrent. It’s inexpensive to install a motion-activated floodlight in your personal driveway and this will increase your chances of catching thieves in the act. If you’re in a parking lot or garage, try to park as close to a light source as possible. Darkness is a car thief’s best friend, so any type of lighting should help reduce the risk of theft.
4) Turn tires to the curb
When your vehicle’s tires are facing the curb, it is more challenging for criminals to maneuver the vehicle in a direction where they’d be able to hop in and run away. If your vehicle requires more complications and time to steal, it’s less likely to be targeted.
5) Consider buying a Faraday pouch
In keyless car theft, criminals use code grabbers to transmit radio signals from the car keys and duplicate them to trick the car system into unlocking the door. A Faraday pouch is a signal-blocking bag that prevents your key from transmitting its code, preventing thieves from being able to duplicate and extract signals.
6) Don’t forget the car alarm
You’ve probably unintentionally activated a car alarm once in your life, and there’s no doubt that the sound of the alarm is hard to miss. Even if you’ve parked your car at a good distance, a car alarm can serve as a strong deterrent by attracting other people’s attention to your vehicle (adversaries are unlikely to make a move when others are watching).
7) Install a GPS tracker
Although it may not deter a criminal, having a tracking device installed in your vehicle can help you find and recover your ride. If you were to become a victim of car theft, the chances of locating your vehicle would increase significantly with one of these devices. Before placing the tracker inside your vehicle, pick an area where thieves won’t be able to see it, whether that be under the seats, in the glove box, or inside the dashboard. Pick a spot that’s easy for you to access but difficult for criminals to figure out.
8) Get the VIN printed on the front window
The VIN or vehicle identification number is a 17-digit code that contains data specific to your car, including the make, year, country of manufacture or origin, and model. It’s stamped in several places inside the car but isn’t visible to onlookers. Try getting it printed on the front window as it will help deter car crooks. If someone is eyeing your vehicle as a target with the intent of profiting from a resale, your vehicle identification number will make the car less attractive to the reseller and its location easier to trace.
9) Don’t leave your vehicle idling
Keeping the engine running while you’re inside your home to run a quick errand can also result in car theft. The noise of the engine attracts thieves; it also attracts law enforcement agencies as leaving the car running while the owner is away is illegal in many states. If you’re not in the driver’s seat, play it safe and keep the engine off.
10) Pull a spark plug wire
An affordable and efficient way to deter car thieves is to pull a spark plug wire. Your vehicle won’t start until there’s a spark in the cylinder. This is a nifty technique to use in areas where criminals can’t really check the hood to see what the issue is without attracting the public’s attention. This won’t work for every car, so don’t try this unless you know your stuff and can make sure that you’re pulling the right fuse. If your car is a new model, it may have a coil plug. That will complicate things, and you won’t be able to do the job without a tool kit.
11) Take a good look at your plates
License plate theft might not be a popular crime, but it could harm you in more ways than you think. Criminals will take your plates and install them on vehicles they use to conduct illicit activities. Make sure to fit the plates on your car correctly and get them frequently checked to ensure they’re the original ones.
While there’s no foolproof way to eliminate the risk of car theft completely, taking these steps will make your vehicle much less attractive to potential criminals. Pass these tips onto your family and friends so they can safeguard their cars as well.