According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 721,885 car thefts in 2019.
If you live in the United States, this means that you had about a 1 in 500 chance of having your car stolen last year, and about a 1 in 9 chance of having your car stolen at some point in your life.
The good news about car thefts is that the number goes down every year, as more and more people are learning ways to reduce the chances of having their cars stolen. Here are 10 tips you can use to reduce the risk of your car being stolen.
Always Take Your Keys
The most obvious habit any driver can learn to reduce the risk of car theft is simply common sense: Never leave your car keys in the ignition. If you absentmindedly leave your keys in the ignition, lock your car, and walk away.
All a thief has to do is break a window and drive away. Or if you leave your engine running when you stop inside a convenience store or the cleaners or a bank for “just a minute,” a car thief won’t even have to break a window to steal your car.
Lock Your Doors When You Leave Your Older-Model Car
Next to taking your keys, the most obvious rule for preventing car theft is to lock your doors. It only takes a skilled car thief 30 seconds to bypass your car’s ignition lock and drive away.
In newer models, however, the ignition doesn’t unlock until the key fob is nearby. This is one of the reasons the number of cars stolen every year is going down.
Don’t Leave Spare Keys Near Your Vehicle
It is not enough to take your keys when you leave your car if you keep a spare key nearby. In newer models, the key can unlock the ignition even when it is not in the car.
In older models, car thieves know all the usual hiding places for spare keys and can find a key in just seconds. Getting locked out of your car is a pain, but not as big a hassle as getting your car stolen.
Close Your Windows
When you leave your windows open, a thief can reach inside your car and make off with electronics, radios, stereos, and anything you leave in your car for convenience.
It just takes an inexpensive door handle latch release wire or a coat hanger to lift a latch and let a thief in.
If you are concerned about leaving your pet or, more alarmingly, your child in your car with the windows rolled up, here’s the best advice: Don’t! Never leave children or pets inside a closed car even on a warm day.
Air temperatures as low as 80° F to 100° outside your car on a sunny day can generate temperatures as high as 125° to 135° inside your car, putting lives at risk.
Or if you are lucky, someone will call the police so they smash a window to release your pet or your child. Then you might be criminally charged.
Park In Well-lit Places
Thieves are less likely to steal cars when they can get caught in the act. Always park your car in a well illuminated location. Avoid parking in places where your car is not visible to passersby.
Install An Anti-theft Device And An Anti-Theft Device.
Anti-theft devices that are visible to a would-be thief walking up to your car, like a steering wheel lock or the flashing light of an activated alarm system will make a thief think twice about taking the time to try to steal your car.
When a thief is not sure if they can drive away in your car, they will avoid the risk of getting caught. They may just walk past your vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends every auto owner install an audible alarm system. Many newer models come with one. If someone tries to break into your car, it makes a loud noise, usually with your car’s horn.
There are many kinds of audible alarm systems, but if your car didn’t come with one, it will have to be wired into your car’s electrical system. This is a job for a skilled auto mechanic.
Install A Vehicle Immobilization System
A thief may be able to bypass your ignition by hot wiring your older car, but you can prevent this with a vehicle immobilization system.
Immobilization systems use kill switches, smart keys, and wireless ignition. They disable your car so no thief can drive it away.
Putting in an immobilization system is not a do-it-yourself job. You will need a skilled mechanic who has experience with these kinds of devices.
Don’t Leave Valuables In Your Car
A purse, a wallet, a backpack, or your purchases as you make your round of stores are all tempting targets for thieves. Even if a thief can’t take your car, they may decide to smash a window or pick a lock to get at valuables you leave in plain sight.
Put valuables in the trunk as you make stop-and-go visits to various stores. Be aware that some thieves hang out in parking lots, scoping out shoppers who are using their trunks to store their purchases, so don’t leave anything valuable unattended for very long.
Make your most expensive purchases at your last stop before you go home. Stay alert for people who seem to be loitering near your car.
The Best Way To Stop Car Theft Is GPS
Portable GPS tracking can be installed in any car, old or new, to track the movement of the car, anywhere it goes. Concealed GPS devices make it possible to locate your stolen car as it is on the way to the chop shop or out of the country,
Just how big a difference can installing GPS make? By one estimate, you are 78 percent more likely to recover your stolen vehicle if it has GPS. And when it’s possible to recover your vehicle, it’s often also possible to recover its contents, which are not covered by your auto insurance policy.
GPS can get you an insurance discount, and it can add one more way to track your kids when they borrow your car. Even when teenagers evade tracking by cell phone, It is possible to track them by discreetly concealed GPS.
Whether you are protecting the family car or a fleet of vehicles, contact GPS Technologies for more information on how GPS tracking can protect your vehicles, or call us at (847) 382-5107 weekdays from 8 until 5 Eastern for answers to all of your questions about GPS.