Tips From the Pro: How To Keep Your Vehicle Safe From Car Thieves

Although still at a low level, car theft rates have started to climb in the past five years, as shown by insurance companies’ statics. There are several ways you can protect your vehicle from thieves and here’s what you need to know.
Hands on car window 6 photos
Photo: Bastian Pudill via Unsplash
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Nobody wants his car stolen but sometimes the unthinkable happens no matter how careful you are. Statistics show 246 cars were stolen for every 100,000 inhabitants across the U.S. in 2020. This doesn't seem like much, but the numbers have increased in the past five years and are now above the 2010 level of 239 cars per 100,000.

Cars nowadays have clever theft protection built-in, like the immobilizer that prevents the engine from firing up without the original key being nearby. You should keep in mind that thieves are resourceful, hard-working people, though, so they always come with ideas on how to circumvent theft protection features in the car. Sometimes they are helped by the carmakers themselves, especially when the car features a keyless entry system that is easy to defeat.

What you need to do is to make the thieves’ work as difficult as possible and to make this obvious, so they will give up and hunt for another victim that’s easier to hack. Our car insurance expert tipped us with the most important measures you could take to keep your car secure.

Car thefts
Photo: Google Creative Commons (Fair Use)
Of course, the simplest of them all is to keep the car keys in a secure place. This means being far away from the front door to prevent relay theft. This also makes it more difficult for the thief to break into your house and snatch them in a hurry. If you want to be sure, put the keys in a tin box that also blocks the radio signals.

Keep your car’s windows fully closed when you’re away, even on a hot summer day. This will reduce the likelihood of thieves prying the window open to enter your car. An open window is also a tempting opportunity for a thief.

Of course, there’s no point in securing the windows if your car’s doors remain unlocked. Keep the doors locked at all times, even when (and especially when) you’re in the car. Unlocked doors are like an open invitation for the thieves, just like you doing half of their job.

You should develop the habit of leaving your car in gear (or Park) and with the wheels directed toward the curb. This measure has added benefits besides the car being harder to tow away, like preventing the car from rolling when it's hit or when it's parked on a slope.

Car thefts
Photo: Google Creative Commons (Fair Use)
Of course, parking in a secure place helps a lot, and nothing deters thieves better than a well-lit and guarded parking spot. Garages and gated parking are even better, but these are harder to come by. It’s not such a bad idea to use a steering wheel lock to immobilize your car. Make it as visible as possible and the thieves will look away. This is because getting rid of one of those is incredibly difficult and time-consuming, so it’s just not worth the effort.

This might sound like a no-brainer, but you should never leave valuables in plain sight. Even if it’s something without value, don’t count on the thief to do the math. Better store everything in the trunk, even if it’s just a jacket.

Last but not least, consider using a tracking device to locate your car in the unlucky event of theft. This will not prevent the thieves from stealing it, of course, but it will give you more chances to recover the car. Without a tracking device, it might prove difficult for the authorities to locate your missing vehicle.

Of course, these bits of advice are only good in case you drive a normal car, with moderate value. Thieves will spare no effort if the value of the car is high enough to justify the efforts and they have singled you out. In this case, only good insurance helps.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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