From catalytic converter thefts, to carjackings, to smash-and-grab incidents - crimes involving vehicles are still climbing. Car thefts rose nearly 20% last year and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Thieves have gotten increasingly savvy, using smart keys to steal cars and switching vehicle identification numbers to avoid detection. So, how do you help protect yourself from becoming a victim of car theft? Be vigilant about securing your car, and take preventive measures to keep your car safe.
Here are 7 things you can do to help protect your car from theft:
CLOSE WINDOWS AND LOCK YOUR DOORS:
Always keeping your windows closed completely and keeping your doors locked is the first step in deterring a thief.
REMOVE YOUR KEYS FROM THE VEHICLE:
Never leave your keys in the ignition. If your key is in the car, a thief can simply break a window and drive off. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR RUNNING UNATTENDED, even if you're just going into a store for a quick errand. A running vehicle is an easy mark for a thief, especially if it is unattended or unlocked.
DON'T LEAVE A SPARE KEY NEAR YOUR CAR:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends taking your keys with you when you leave your car. Some people keep a spare key under the car or in the glove box, just in case they get locked out — but thieves know where to check for an extra key. To thwart high‐tech car thieves who clone a car’s remote key fob using relay attack (receiver/transmitter), keep your key fob in your house as far away from the car as possible so thieves can’t detect the signal and clone the code. Some vehicle owners store their key fobs in pouches or boxes designed to block radio transmissions.
PARK IN WELL‐LIT AREAS:
Always park in well‐lit areas, if possible. At home, if you are unable to park your vehicle in a locked garage, park your vehicle as close as possible to your house or apartment. Motion detector flood light cameras are great tools against theft prevention.
NEVER LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR:
If you must have something important with you, keep it out of sight. Put valuables in the trunk before you get where you need to be, as some thieves scope parking lots — looking for people who are moving items to their trunk.
INSTALL AN ANTITHEFT SYSTEM OR DEVICE:
There are numerous antitheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover:
Audible and Visible Devices: These devices, such as a horn alarm, deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle. Visible devices create a visual threat/warning/deterrence, such as the use of steering‐wheel locks, as well as theft‐deterrent decals, flashing lights, and window etching.
Immobilizing‐Type Devices: These prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and “hot‐wiring” the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.
Vehicle Recovery Systems: These devices use electronic transmission technology that helps law enforcement reveal the location of stolen vehicles—and possibly catch the thief in the act.
Be aware of your surroundings when you park your car. If you are wary of the safety of your car or see someone loitering around the parking lot, it's best to park somewhere else.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR IS STOLEN
Contact police immediately to file a stolen‐vehicle report. You will need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may also be asked to provide the following information: License plate number; make, model, and color of your vehicle; and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and any identifying characteristics.
Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of your vehicle being stolen.
If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.