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9 Ways to Fight Back Against Car Theft

If driving has become a chore, then consider that the average American spends 90 per cent of their time away from their car. That fact may cheer you up as you crawl at a snail’s pace through the morning commute, but it also means that for nine tenths of the day, your prize vehicle is a sitting target for the nation’s car thieves.

CNN claims that there are around 1.85 million auto break-ins every single year, and the combined total of stolen items comes in at about $1.25 billion. That’s a heck of a lot of iPhones, tablets and other personal items to replace.

Most stolen vehicles per state

RankStateVehicles Stolen
1California170,993
2Texas67,485
3Florida40,661
4Washington26,867
5Georgia26,482
6Illinois17,652
7Ohio17,229
8Missouri16,999
9Arizona16,785
10Colorado16,785

Least stolen vehicles per state

RankStateVehicles Stolen
1Vermont178
2Wyoming592
3Maine814
4New Hampshire891
5Delaware1,181
6South Dakota1,188
7Rhode Island1,389
8North Dakota1,583
9Idaho1,871
10Alaska2,046

Statistics credit to www.iii.org

However, the good news is that theft from cars is extremely preventable and these nine tips will show you how you can stay safe.

  1. Lock it!

lock your car

Lock your car

This is kindergarten stuff, but according to an article in Tucson News, around 50% of auto thefts involve vehicles that were simply left unlocked.

Cops have also noticed an increase in the number of ‘Slider thefts’ where criminals ‘slide in’ and ‘slide out’ of your car in 10 seconds or less. So it doesn’t matter if you’re popping into the drug store or even pumping gas, the message is ‘lock it or lose it’.

  1. Hide the Goods

Before leaving the car make sure that your valuables are secure and not put on display for opportunist thieves to come along and help themselves. High value items such as iPads and Smart Phones are always going to draw crooks in, but a survey carried out by the Regional Auto Theft Task Force showed that criminals will even resort to stealing CDs and loose change.

Initiatives by police forces have raised awareness over the importance of not displaying your valuables. In Brooklyn, cops reported a 47% decrease in vehicle break-ins following their drive to stop the public from leaving their goods on show.

  1. Make your Security Obvious

Many auto thieves are targeting your car as well as the valuables contained inside so don’t be afraid to go over the top with your security. Consider upgrading your alarm, and perhaps look to fit an immobiliser or tracker if they haven’t been supplied as standard.

car security

Make your car security obvious.

Visible accessories such as a steering wheel lock or brake pedal lock will help to deter the opportunist crooks, as might a sticker advertising the existence of an alarm (although it helps to back that up with an effective device!).

Those living in coastal or border areas should be extra vigilant, as a report by the National Insurance Car Bureau claims that around half of the top 25 car crime cities in the US have easy access to borders. Worthy of note is the fact that eight of the top ten are located in California.

  1. Lock your Garage

The garage is the first port of call for any car thief, so make sure it’s as secure as possible in order to keep the

secure garage

Secure your garage

professional auto crooks at bay.

There are many helpful articles across the net that can help you improve your garage security, but items such as motion-activated spotlights, garage door deadbolts and frosted windows are effective purchases in the fight against car crime.

  1. Secure Parking

When you’re away from home and parking in your garage just isn’t an option, remember to be security-aware when you choose a spot. Always leave your vehicle in a well-lit area of the street or parking lot, ideally a place where many passers-by will help to deter thieves.

Avoid dark areas and spots surrounded by trees and other foliage, which would allow criminals to work undetected.

You should be extra vigilant in busy parking areas such as malls or at the gym. Thieves are known to watch from a safe vantage point for motorists who place valuables in the trunk before leaving themselves vulnerable as they go back in for more. Joggers are at risk too so try to cram your cell phone somewhere into that tight Spandex rather than leave it in your vehicle and at the mercy of crooks.

  1. Taking it with you

It makes perfect sense to take your phone along wherever you go, but there are a number of less obvious items that you should never leave in your vehicle. These include the keys or the remote control that operates your garage door – if you do get unlucky and a car thief strikes, you don’t want him to hit up your house, too.

In addition, always take out any documents that reveal your address (such as mail and labeled house keys), and always take your car keys along too (again, seems elementary, but you’d be amazed at what some careless motorists are capable of).

As an extra tip, try to teach your children the basics of car security. It might be simple enough to take your own valuables out of the vehicle but is that a Game Boy they’ve left in full view?

  1. What are you putting in your glove box?

glove box

Keep valuables out of the glove box.

For the majority of motorists, the glove box contains the most important documents – your insurance certificate, a duplicate license and maybe even the car registration yourself. If you leave your glove box at the mercy of the car thieves, you’re also opening yourself up to be a victim of identity theft.

Crimes such as these are on the rise and in Oakland, Florida recently, the police reported three separate incidents in a two day period where cars had been accessed illegally and the glove box rifled through. In each instance, the vehicles were unlocked.

Thieves have been known to target car parks around cinemas and restaurants in the hope of finding documents leading them to an unattended address. So while you’re enjoying The Dark Knight Rises, your car could be missing and your home emptied before they roll the credits.

  1. Remove all evidence

Along with iPhones, iPads and other digital devices, GPS Sat-nav systems are highly prized by auto thieves and since they were first introduced onto the market, we have been advised to hide them when we’re not in the vehicle.

Of course, you could secrete them in your glove box but as we’ve seen, this is no deterrent to professional and opportunist thieves alike. So keep your equipment well away from the car but at the same time, remember to clean those little suction cup marks that tell criminals that a GPS usually lives here.

Shopping bags and disconnected chargers can also be a signal that there’s loot about, so remember: a clean, organized vehicle is a safe one. It will impress your boss and keep your spouse quiet too.

  1. Never accept gifts from strangers or thieves

In April 2015, a Kansas City thief allegedly placed a GPS tracking device to his intended victim’s car. After being satisfied that she was away from home for a considerable time, he took a truck into her driveway, broke into her home and made off with around $100,000 in furs, jewelry and other valuable items.

So far this appears to be a one-off incident, but it helps to be extra vigilant and look for anything suspicious in our continuing fight against auto crime.

Kevin Raposo

Kevin Raposo

This post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe Home Security Systems. Kevin covers issues related to security, crime, and tech. When he’s not keeping his car thief proof, he’s usually playing basketball or just hanging out at the gym. SimpliSafe is climbing it’s way to the top of the home security industry.

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