7 Ways to Prevent Auto Theft
You walk out of the mall when it closes at 9pm after a long day of shopping and can’t find your car. You definitely parked it over here, an isolated area in the parking lot, because you didn’t want your car to be damaged by other drivers. You look around and see that there are barely any lights around this area. The few cars that are left are far away, closer to the entrance of the mall. You slowly come to a realization that your car has been stolen.
As disastrous as car theft is, it is not uncommon. According to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there was an estimated number of 773,139 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2017. Even if your car has been recovered, the parts could be stripped to be resold or damaged after a joyride.
No matter what you do, your car may be a target, but you can take preventive measures to drastically reduce those chances. Some insurance companies even lower rates with proof of auto theft prevention! Here are some tips to get you started:
Lock Your Car and Close All Windows
As simple as it sounds, locking your car doors is something that can be easily overlooked. Remember to lock your car up even in your own driveway or on the street in front of your house even if you leave it unattended for a short while. Unlocked cars are easy targets for car thieves since the first preventive measure has already been compromised. Additionally, make sure all windows and sunroofs are closed before exiting the vehicle.
Keep Track of Your Keys
To avoid being locked out of their cars, many people opt to put a spare key under the wheel well or under the car. Unfortunately, many car thieves have caught on to the trick. It’s inconvenient to be locked out of your car, but having it stolen is worse. Also, make sure to keep track of who has the keys to your car and ask for them back if they don’t need it anymore.
Don’t Leave Valuables in the Car
Forgetting to take your laptop or iPad out of the car can lead to bad consequences. High value items make your car even more of a target for broken windows or theft. Keep items out of site like under the seats, or even better, in your trunk. Make sure no one is paying attention as you tuck away your valuables.
The safest place to park your car in a public garage is near the elevators, the entrance, or the security booth. High traffic areas deter thieves who don’t want to risk being seen and identified. If none of those spots are available, take note if there are any security cameras throughout the structure and park near them. Make sure to avoid dimly lit, isolated areas for your car’s security as well as your own safety.
Vehicle Identification Number
Most of the time, your VIN is etched in hidden places. It contains the information of your car’s manufacturer, model, make, year, and specifications. Each car has a unique VIN number that can be used to track recalls, warranty claims, registration and theft. Consider etching your VIN onto each window, which would make it harder for car thieves to sell them to chop shops since they will be easier to track. Insurance companies are also likely to lower your rates if this preventive measure is taken. What an incentive!
Most of the time, vehicle registrations are kept in the glove compartment for easy access. It’s actually one of the easiest ways for car thieves to pretend the car is theirs if they get pulled over. Even if they were caught, having the vehicle registration makes it easy for them to talk their way out of it. If you must keep it in your car, hide it somewhere only you, or other people who own the car, know.
After going through all the preventive measures that YOU can take, there are also outside resources available to increase the security of your car. Anti-theft devices are effective deterrents as they make it difficult, if not impossible, to steal your car. Unless the thief is extremely determined, they may just move on to easier targets. Also, installing anti-theft devices is another way to lower your insurance rates! They can include:
- Steering Wheel Lock - Steering wheel locks are one of the easiest, most convenient anti-theft systems. It attaches to the steering wheel of the car to lock it in place, preventing someone from driving away. Most of the time, they are manufactured with durability and security in mind, so it’s hard for thieves to cut or saw through them. Do some research about which ones work the best!
- Tire Lock - You might have encountered a tire lock by parking in an illegal spot. It’s impossible to get off, and you have to call the police to unlock it for you. Luckily, their not the only ones who have access to tire locks. It may be a hassle to use on a daily basis, but you can keep one in your trunk in case you need to park your car for an extended period of time.
- Kill Switch - Kill switches prevent thieves from hot wiring and starting your car in case they manage to break in. They disrupt the flow of electricity to the fuel pump or other critical systems, making it impossible to start the car without flicking the switch. They are difficult to install, so seek help from a professional.
- Electronic Tracking System - Electronic tracking systems let you know where your car is at all times. In case your car is stolen, it’ll be easier for the police to track it down. It also comes in handy when you forget where you parked your car!
Cars are one of the most expensive possessions. Unless the area you live in has excellent public transportation, cars are necessary to get from one place to another. Losing yours can be detrimental and will probably be much more than a minor inconvenience. Take care of it properly!
Remember to get new car insurance quotes at least once a year. Don’t wait for a catastrophe to make sure you have reliable insurance either. At SmartFinancial, we help you find the lowest rates for the best protection.
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