You probably won’t encounter a lion trying to break into your car any time soon, but vehicle break-ins and theft are an unfortunate reality of car ownership that can be prevented. Here are 10 simple steps you can take to help keep your car from being stolen or broken into.
1. Keep Valuables Hidden
Out of sight, out of mind. A Kleenex box out on the back seat is far less tempting than an iPad. Simply covering and concealing valuables is one of the cheapest ways to remove a criminal’s desire to break in.
2. Maintain Your Car
Have you ever thought, “My car is trashed, who would ever want it?” A well-maintained car is more likely to have reliable alarms or tracking devices. The owner of a well-kept car probably cares about their car enough to report it missing and track it down immediately. Criminals want an easy target. Your “trashed” vehicle is still worth a few hundred bucks in parts.
Make your car look amazing (and well-protected) with these DIY auto detailing tips.
3. Lock The Car, Every Time
Thousands of Americans still don’t lock their cars. Even if you live in rural Wyoming, why take the risk of your car being stolen? Modern technology makes locking your car even easier. Some vehicles have compatible smart phone apps that allow you to lock, unlock and even start your car from a distance. Other modern vehicles can be set to automatically lock when the keys are a certain distance away from the vehicle. Unless you want a really good excuse to buy a new car on Carsforsale.com, lock your car.
4. Get an Alarm Sticker
In a line of vehicles, a criminal will probably chose one without a security system or alarm sticker on the door. The sticker may be completely meaningless, but spending a couple bucks on a sticker could intimidate anyone who considers jacking your ride.
5. Drive a Stick
Sadly, the art of driving a manual is dying. Lucky for you, stick shifts are a great thief repellant. A couple in Florida was allegedly asked to leave their vehicle at gun point. When the thieves hopped in the vehicle and noticed the stick shift, they fled the scene on foot. If you had the kind of parent that made you learn a stick first, thank them. Check out the full story.
6. Park Where it’s Safe
This is another common sense tip that is frequently overlooked. If you don’t feel safe where you are parked, your car may not be either. Try to park where lighting is strong. An extra 20 yards of walking is completely worth keeping a vehicle in your possession.
These aren’t foolproof, but a big metal bar on the steering wheel is usually enough to make a car thief look elsewhere. An experienced car thief can probably disarm the steering wheel club with some time, but it makes it far more difficult and risky. For $10 – $40, the club steering wheel lock is cheap insurance.
8. Install a Modern Theft Sensor
Old vibration-activated car alarms are terrible. They kept us up at night, never triggered at the right time and were completely ignored by the public. Thankfully modern theft sensors not only trigger alarms, they can shut down the ignition and even send a notification to your phone. If your car is on the move, you can track it via GPS. LoJack and OnStar provide some of the most high-tech tracking devices for cars.
9. Use A Smart Key
Smart keys aren’t just smart, they are extremely convenient. Also called keyless entry, smart entry, etc., a smart key is like a digital handshake between your key and the ignition. As long as your keys are anywhere in your car, even your pocket, you can start the car with the push of a button.
So how do they help prevent theft? You can’t even hotwire the car without the keys inside. As long as you have your keys, the vehicle will be nearly impossible to drive away.
10. Park In The Garage
What’s harder than breaking through one door? Breaking through two. Assuming you keep your garage locked, this is a great strategy. Another benefit of keeping the car in the garage is the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy from #1.
Buy an extremely weird and unique car featured in Weird Stuff Wednesday and the robber will stick out like a sore thumb.
Have you had your car stolen, or do you have other tips to help our readers keep from having their cars stolen or broken into? Let us know in the comments!