Cars are an investment — not counting the potential money loss if you’re left without transportation and can’t get to work. Unfortunately, that investment also makes them a target for thieves, especially if you’ve spent your money on a sports or luxury car. If you’re worried about your car, there are steps you can take to help prevent your car from being stolen. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Use Your Antitheft Systems
If you’ve got a newer car, chances are it’s already equipped with an antitheft system. This could be as simple as a car alarm or as elaborate as a GPS tracking system or an ignition cut-off that prevents the car from being started. If you’ve got them, use them! Lock your car and turn on the antitheft systems whenever you’re not in the vehicle — many cars do it automatically when you press the lock button.
If you drive an older car or one that didn’t come with an antitheft system, look into an aftermarket system to protect your investment. Something as simple as a wheel lock or a Club for your steering wheel can keep your car from driving away without you. Many aftermarket systems don’t require any electrical knowledge or knowhow — just hook them up and you’re good to go.
- Park in a Garage
Do you have a garage attached to your house? If so, does it have room for you to park your car? Chances are, if you’re like the majority of the population, your garage is full of junk that’s overflowed from the rest of your house. If that’s the case, it’s time for a big decluttering session so you can park your car indoors.
Parking in a garage is infinitely safer than leaving your car on the street — thieves are more likely to steal cars that are easily accessible. In most cases, they aren’t going to go to the extra trouble of breaking into a garage and potentially setting off a home security system just to steal a car.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Your car is more likely to be broken into and/or stolen if you leave valuables in plain sight. Sure, it might seem more convenient to leave your purse or phone in the car instead of possibly forgetting it the next time you leave the house, but it also increases your chances of having your car stolen.
If you need to leave valuables in the car, don’t leave them out where the casual observer can see them. Keep them under your seat, in your trunk or in your glove compartment — if you can lock the glove compartment, that is. It might not stop determined thieves, but it will discourage the casual thief from smashing their way in to steal easily accessible valuables.
This isn’t an option for everyone, obviously, but if you live in one of the cities that have the highest number of car thefts in the United States, it might be time to relocate. Seattle, San Jose, California and Milwaukee are among the worst cities to own a car in, boasting the highest car theft per 100 people in the country.
If relocating isn’t an option, it’s up to you to be extra vigilant to ensure your investment is protected.
- Change Passwords
Many newer cars are coming off the production line Wi-Fi enabled, which is a fantastic tool for people who work while they’re traveling. However, it also creates a security vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers. Just ask the two white hat hackers — the good guys — who demonstrated their ability to take over a newer Jeep while it was on the road.
The easiest way to protect your car is to change the default password to something unique to you, and to only install official software in your car — manufacturers will often send updates on flash drives though the mail. Make sure it’s a legit update before you install it.
- Don’t Lose Your Keys
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the easiest way to keep your car safe from thieves is to keep track of your keys. If someone steals your car after swiping your keys, it becomes more difficult to get it returned to you.
Always know where your keys are, and make sure if you loan your car out to someone, it’s only to someone you trust not to make copies of your keys.
- Drive a Stick Shift
Do you drive an automatic transmission or a stick shift? If it’s the latter, then you may be better off than you realize when it comes to protecting your car from being stolen. Fewer and fewer people these days know how to drive a manual transmission, and that includes car thieves. Casual car thieves tend to prefer automatic transmissions, especially if they’re part of the younger generation.
One case, where a couple of teenagers decided to rob a pizza delivery man, was thwarted when the would-be robbers discovered the delivery man was driving a stick shift. The thieves took off on foot because they couldn’t drive their getaway vehicle and were caught soon after.
When it comes down to it, constant vigilance is the only thing that can protect your car from thieves. Park your car somewhere safe, keep your valuables out of sight and consider switching to a car with a manual transmission. Then you’ll be good to go!
When all else fails, drive something like this:
You’ll never have to worry about your car being stolen again.