10 Ways to “Theft-Proof” Your Car
Your car is probably one of the biggest investments you have ever made. Therefore, it is only natural that you want to protect it. But how? This is where car security systems come in.
There are different types of security devices you can use on your car. Some work by attaching them to your gear stick. Others can be fit across the steering wheel. Still, there are others that use wheel clamps, or any combination of these devices.
While these devices may decrease the likelihood of car theft, it is not unknown for thieves to find a loophole or a weak spot in common car security devices.
Many car security devices can be unlocked or easily removed in mere seconds. This is not to say, however, that you should put off using any of these devices. What they offer is added security, and there are some devices that are indeed very effective in deterring thieves, leaving you with the question: Which ones are effective and which ones aren’t?
#1. Get a car alarm or install immobilizers.
If your car is new, then chances are that it already comes with a built-in car alarm and immobilizer. In fact, this is one of the reasons why there has been a significant drop in theft of newer cars over the past years.
However, in case your car does not have any of these basic security devices, here are other options that you have.
A car alarm operates by preventing both car theft and theft from your vehicle. Immobilizers, on the other hand, prevent the engine from starting. Both are highly effective as deterrents to car theft, and when combined, their efficiency increases.
It is possible for a car to have a car alarm but no immobilizer. If you want to install an immobilizer as well, you can fit one into your car. The same goes if your car only has an engine immobilizer.
#2. Prevent car breakdowns.
There is no way of telling if your car is going to break down on a particular trip. This is all the more reason for you to take positive steps in preventing breakdowns as much as possible.
When your car breaks down, you feel vulnerable, especially if it happens in a dark, isolated place. You are on your own and help is a long way off. Even if you know cars, this does not guarantee your safety because it would be difficult for you to keep your guard when you are busy changing tire or checking the hood of the car.
To help you feel a little safer in case of a car breakdown, be sure to follow up on your weekly car maintenance checks, including oil, water, and other engine fluids. In addition, check to see if the tire pressures are sufficient and whether there is enough petrol. Also, stop at a refilling well before your gauge runs low.
If your car breaks down and help is on the way, it is often recommended that you stay inside the car. However, this rule does not always apply, especially when the breakdown occurs in a motorway. In which case, get out of the car on the passenger side and wait.
It is less risky to stand outside and away from the car than to sit on the hard shoulder where you are more likely to fall into harm if your car is struck by another vehicle.
If it is dark, be sure to turn on your car’s hazard warning lights. If you are on a motorway, there should be marker posts every 100 meters that point you to the nearest telephone.
#3. Keep your car things out of plain view.
One word: temptation.
When you leave your valuable possessions in your car and in plain view, you are only tempting thieves to break in and steal them. Do not give them the opportunity to do so. Do not give them a reason to break in.
What are the valuables usually kept in cars and will catch a thief’s attention? These include:
- Car stereos
- CDs and tapes
- Laptop computers
- Mobile phones
- Credit cards
- Tax disks
For in-car entertainment systems, most new cars have a built-in security system. For instance, car stereos may have removable faces which you can carry around when you have to leave the car.
Another security feature for car entertainment systems is a built-in security code. The code is needed for the stereo to work in case it is removed and installed in a different car.
#4. Get security etching.
Another way to secure your car is through the VIN. You might recall your car dealer giving you a 17-digit number. This number is called the VIN (registration number) and it is very important because it identifies your car and distinguishes it from other cars.
The VIN is often etched on the window of your car and other parts of the vehicle. This is actually useful for the police to match the vehicle with its parts so that they can identify the rightful owner.
In addition to the VIN, most new cars also have a special code which manufacturers use to match up the car with its chassis.
Older cars may not have this security etching at this disposal, but don’t worry. There are many companies that sell car window glass and windscreen with free security etching included.
#5. Incorporate a GPS tracking system in your vehicle.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite navigational system that allows a person to accurately determine the location of any GPS receiver (GPSr) anywhere on Earth.
As used in vehicle tracking system, a GPS receiver is installed in the vehicle “covertly” – that is, the receiver is usually hidden from view and no warning notices are placed on the car indicating that it has a tracking device.
The GPS receiver operates by transmitting a special radio signal which the satellite can decipher and send back to the police who will then be able to track the car. Only in the event of a car theft or when the owner reports that his car is missing will the GPS system be activated.
Granted that GPS is a sophisticated piece of security equipment, and thus, may require a big investment on your part, it by far the most advanced car security system out there with a 99% chance of recovery.
#6. Never leave your keys in the car.
Even if you are only out of the car for five minutes. Or you are only taking shopping bags from the car into your house. Or you are only dropping something off at the post office. One word: DON’T. Never give thieves the opportunity to steal the keys of your car.
Thieves these days are getting smarter and smarter. Instead of breaking in and then starting the car manually, they will just steal the keys to your car. Sure, it requires a different kind of daring, but thieves will take every opportunity thrown their way if it means they will have an easier time stealing things that don’t belong to them.
In addition to stealing keys that are left in the car, some thieves will try to take keys from bags or pockets. In some cases, they might even steal the keys right from your home.
In one study conducted by the Metropolitan Police, the figures showed that majority of the car key crimes occur when people are loading or unloading their cars, while in 29% of cases, said crimes occur in people’s homes.
To avoid being a victim of car key crime, treat the keys of your car as you would your other personal belongings, such as your credit cards or cash. And when you are at home or at work, make sure that you keep them in a secure place.
#7. Be careful of where you park your car.
The parking lot and where it is located is very important for your car’s safety, as well as yours. That is why you need to carefully choose where you park your car.
You will recognize a fairly secure parking lot if it has good lighting and better surveillance. If you are in a hurry and there is no secured parking lot anywhere, just park in an area that is quite busy and well lit, especially at night.
If you can, reverse into the parking space. This will make it easier for you to get away quickly in case of an emergency. Also, if the car park is multi-storey, choose a parking space that is closer to the exit. As much as possible, park away from pillars.
#8. Be on your guard when filling up your car with petrol.
Recent studies show that car thefts and assaults in petrol stations are rising. So you should always be careful when you stop at a petrol station to fill up your car.
To help citizens like you minimize opportunities for crime, here are a few simple measures that you can take:
- When you leave your car at the pump to pay for fuel, be sure to lock your car.
- If you have a child, don’t leave him or her in the vehicle unattended. This is an important reminder for parents with very young children.
- Always take the car key with you.
- When you leave the car to pay, be sure not to leave any valuable possessions in the car in plain view.
#9. Read up on vehicle theft and how to protect your car.
One must understand that vehicle theft is more than just a crime committed by teenagers out for a joyride. It is a huge crime committed by organized criminals. If all of us would take proactive steps, then we can all help in putting the brakes on car theft.
#10. Beware of the “bump and rob” criminal.
In recent years, car thieves have come up with ingenious ways to steal vehicles. One of the more recent ones is when they intentionally bump into the rear of your car. When this happens, the natural thing to do is to get out so you can look at the damage. The thief will then take this opportunity to steal your car.
This kind of “bump and rob” crime often happens with executive cars, but it always pays to be careful. If you feel a threat, then do not hesitate to call the police.
All of the above steps are only preventive measures. Like most problems in this world, there is no sure-fire way to solve the crime of car theft. But by being careful and taking steps to minimize opportunities for criminals to do crime, then you can rest assured that you are contributing a great deal to stopping car theft once and for all.
And if all else fails, be sure to get a good car insurance policy. This is your safety net, so be sure to choose a good, reliable insurance company, one that won’t give you the run-around when something bad happens.