(ModernSurvival.org) – Car thefts in the United States surpassed 1 million in 2022 — the most since 2008. Roughly 250,000 of these thefts occurred in the fourth quarter of the year alone. With these crimes on the rise, one must question what can be done to protect their vehicle from thieves.
Protect Your Keys
Often, the most simple solution is the most effective. To keep your car safe, start by taking your keys with you every time you exit the vehicle (including spare keys) and lock the doors. A thief can still break a window to get in, but if the keys are just sitting there they can drive away before law enforcement arrives at the scene.
The same concept applies to leaving your car running unattended. This makes your vehicle an easy target. Double-check to ensure the windows are rolled up, and the doors are locked when parking.
Always park in well-lit, highly visible areas when possible. Thieves generally don’t want to attract attention to their activities, so this may cause them to seek an easier target. When at home, park your vehicle in the garage if you have one and close the door. If you don’t have a garage, consider installing motion sensor lights near your driveway or in the area you park.
The harder it is for the criminal to access your car, the more likely they are to leave it alone.
When it comes to keeping your vehicle safe, a bit of situational awareness goes a long way. Be aware of your surroundings when parking your vehicle. If you spot someone loitering suspiciously in the parking lot, move your vehicle away from them.
Install Anti-Theft Devices
Many cars come equipped with audible alarm systems that go off when someone tries to tamper with the vehicle. If your car has one, great. If not, you may want to consider having one installed.
To take this a step further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends using a visible anti-theft device. Visible devices, such as steering-wheel locks or flashing lights, often deter thieves once they realize the car is protected.
Another option to explore is a vehicle immobilizer system. These help prevent thieves from “hot-wiring” the automobile (bypassing the key ignition system). Some of these security systems can even stop the flow of fuel or electricity to the vehicle, preventing it from starting.
Track Your Vehicle
As a last resort defense, install a vehicle recovery device. These transmit your vehicle’s location, making it easier for law enforcement to recover your car should it be stolen. These come in a wide variety of sizes, some of which are installed within the car and others that are small and easily hidden beneath a seat.
What to Do Should the Unthinkable Come to Pass
If your vehicle is stolen, contact the police immediately. Be ready to provide the following information to help them locate your ride:
- License plate number
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Tracking device information if available
In addition to contacting the police, you’ll need to inform your insurance company as well, preferably within 24 hours of the car going missing. This is especially important if you carry comprehensive coverage for theft reimbursement.
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