Vehicle thefts happen all day, every day. No matter your type of automobile – sedan, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or even scooter – your vehicle could become the target of this opportunistic crime.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle was stolen in the United States every 43.8 seconds in 2019, and per recent statistics, 2020 was no better. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported more than 873,000 total thefts in 2020, a significant increase from the near 794,000 thefts during 2019.

Car Theft: Making Sure it Doesn’t Happen to You

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Every automobile is an open target to car thieves. From vehicle parts like high end sound systems and custom wheels to valuable items left in the console or under the seat, they want anything that can turn a profit. They have new and improved tactics that make stealing a vehicle easier than ever.

Prevention Tips and Tricks

While no car is off-limits to those sneaky criminals out there, you can take a few measures to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim. Let’s begin with some basic recommendations and common-sense suggestions that vehicle owners often overlook, especially when they let their guard down.

Do not leave your car running and unattended. It goes without saying, an unattended car is an easy steal. With the keys in the ignition and the motor running, the car is screaming, “Take me.” We know it could encourage thieves, yet we all do it from time to time. We leave the car running while we run into the convenience store or drop off a gift at a friend’s house.

Lock your car doors. Make it a habit to lock the doors when you exit your car. In many modern cars, locking the doors engages the car alarm system. If anyone tries to force the doors open, it is sure to alert you. You can take this recommendation a step further by locking your windows too.

Close the windows and sunroof of your vehicle. If you can’t lock your windows, the next best step is to close them completely when you are not in and using the vehicle.

Don’t just hide, but remove all valuables from your car. If you can spot it, so can a passerby
or thief. Leaving a laptop or purse in plain sight is an invitation to thieves to break in.

Remove the keys from the ignition. A simple suggestion that all too often goes unfollowed. Remove the keys not only from the ignition, take them out of the car entirely.

Park smart. Use parking garages when available. Their very design/layout hinders a quick getaway, and many also have security cameras. If a garage is not accessible, find a parking spot in a busy, well-lit area. The more people around, the better.

Be aware. Avoid parking in high crime areas when possible. Look at your surroundings. Stay alert.

The Next Level

Common sense can go a long way towards protecting your car. Some circumstances may require you to take extra steps to ensure your car is safe a secure. They require additional equipment and expenses, but it may be worth it. If you don’t know how to install them yourself, contact your Cottonwood or Farmington auto repair expert, and they can do it for you.

Use visible anti-theft devices. A thief wants to steal your car in record time with no disruptions or hiccups. A physical obstacle is an easy way to inhibit that. Consider utilizing a steering column collar, steering wheel lock, brake pedal lock, or wheel lock.

Activate an audible alarm system. Car alarm systems emit a loud sound, such as the car horn, if they detect unusual activity. Noises attract attention and that’s the last thing any thief wants. If your car is not equipped with an alarm system, aftermarket alarms are available for nearly every make and model of vehicle.

Install an immobilizer. An immobilizer system disables a car when someone attempts to start the vehicle not using the proper key. This type of system prevents a thief from hotwiring your car. In other words, it will not allow someone to bypass the vehicle’s ignition system and get away with your car.

Put in a vehicle recovery system. The latest GPS technology allows you to know the location of your vehicle at all times. If your car goes missing, a GPS device can help you and the police track it down.

If Your Car is Stolen

Thieves steal vehicles for a variety of reasons. Some are interested in the valuables inside such as a cell phone, iPad, laptop, purse, or cash. Others are going after car parts like engines, transmissions, doors, or airbags.

If you become a victim of vehicle theft, it is important to take action immediately. Contact the police to file a report. Be prepared to provide your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the license plate number, and a description of your car. You will also need to file a claim with your insurance company within 24 hours.

For many, a car is a significant investment that is worth protecting. If your vehicle is stolen, the aftermath is a big headache as you deal with the financial disruption, losing your means of transportation, replacing valuables, managing an insurance claim, and the list goes on and on. Anti-theft features are worth utilizing. Do your part to decrease the chances and lessen the risk of being the next statistic.