Outsmarting Car Thieves
At least one car is stolen every 45 seconds in the United States. A thief may break in to your car to steal valuables inside or maybe the car itself. Whatever the motive, here are some tips to make it harder for car thieves to steal from you.
Keep Your Car Center Stage
Park your car in a well-traveled area where it would be hard for car thieves to get away without having any witnesses. If you know your car will be parked until the evening or overnight, try to park as close as you can to a streetlamp or some kind of light source to make sure your car remains in a well-lit area after the sun sets.
Triple Check the Basics
Make sure that your car is secure. Lock all doors and completely close the windows. Always make sure to properly conceal items, but try to leave as few items as possible in your car when you can. Theft-prevention 101 is to not give the thief a reason to steal.
Consider Extra Protection
A car alarm is a great deterrent—it could help stop a car thief before he or she is able to break in. The noise from the alarm going off will draw attention to the area of the crime and scare away the thief. An immobilization device could also be an effective prevention method for car theft. This type of device could be either a secret button you must push to start the car or a chip in the key or key fob. You may also consider installing a tracking system to help you retrieve your car if it is ever stolen.
Is Your Car at a Higher Risk?
You might be doing everything you can, but your car itself could be what is catching the thieves' attention. According to research by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, some cars have a higher chance of being targeted by car thieves. Here's a list of what the top 10 most stolen vehicles in 2017 were:
- 1997 Honda Accord
- 1998 Honda Civic
- 2006 Ford F-Series full-size pickup
- 2004 Chevrolet full-size pickup
- 2016 Toyota Camry
- 2015 Nissan Altima
- 2001 Dodge full-size pickup
- 2015 Toyota Corolla
- 2008 Chevrolet Impala
- 2000 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
- Tinted windows provide you with extra protection from the sun, but they can also help hide a thief once he's broken into your car.
- It is a myth that thieves don't want to steal older cars. Car thieves don't always target new car models, because older cars may have more valuable parts than newer cars.
- Some vehicles come with an extra key called a "valet key" that is found in the owner's manual or the tool kit in the trunk. Many owners don't even know those keys are there, but if a thief knows to where to look, it may make it easier for a car thief to take it for a joyride.
The ultimate way to keep your car from being broken into or stolen is to use common sense. Think like a thief—if you see something you want in a car and it's unlocked and parked in a dark area, odds are you can steal it without getting caught. Bottom line: Keep valuables hidden or out of the car altogether, park in well-lit, crowded areas and always, always lock your car.