A skilled thief will be able to break into your car in under 10 seconds. It takes just a few minutes to hot-wire the vehicle and drive away. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car is stolen in America approximately every 41 seconds.
1. Lock Your Car
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: An unlocked car is an easy target. It’s normal to get complacent when you’re comfortable with your surroundings, but if you let down your guard and don’t bother locking the door, you’re inviting thieves to strike.
2. Keep your car running
You may be tempted to leave the car running while you dash up to the ATM or whip into the gas station for a quick cup of coffee, but resist. A thief can jump in and drive away. Many car thieves actually lie in wait at places where you’re likely to keep your car running to capitalize on a quick opportunity. And while it might seem like a smart winter trick to start the car and let it warm up for a few minutes while you’re getting ready to go, you might as well simply hand the keys over to a thief. Don’t do it.
3. Make intelligent choices about where you park
Cars get stolen in dark alleys for a reason. Thieves look for spots that are protected from view, giving them time and space to do their work. Always park your car in a well-lit, public place that gets regular foot traffic. If you park in a garage, don’t go to the far corner. Instead, pick a spot close to the entrance, where security cameras will be watching. At home, if you have the option to park in your garage, do it. It’s safer than leaving your car in the driveway or at the curb.
4. Keep Valuables in the House
Again, this might seem obvious but don’t leave valuables in plain view when you park your car. Take your portable devices with you, and don’t even leave change in the cupholder. You’d be amazed by how little it takes to attract a car thief.
5. Lock your Steering Wheel
Devices like The Club and The Wrap will lock your steering wheel so the car can’t be driven. Their mere presence is a visual deterrent. And while these devices can be foiled by thieves, they slow them down enough to make your car a less attractive target.
6. Inscribe the VIN on your Windshield
The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is a particular identifier that’s unique to your vehicle, and that can be tied to you—and this is public information. If you engrave the VIN on your windshield and other windows, your car becomes much less valuable on the black market for parts. No thief wants to steal a car that is easily identifiable as stolen.
7. Install a Kill Switch
A kill switch cuts the flow of electricity to the ignition switch or battery and disables the fuel pump. Installing a hidden kill switch is a great way to frustrate thieves and prevent them from actually stealing your car, even if they’ve succeeded in breaking into it. Many new vehicles come with a kill switch installed, and cars that don’t already have one can be easily retrofitted.
8. Spare keys must be removed
You might have an extra key in your car that you’re not even aware of. Some vehicles have valet keys stashed inside the owner’s manual or in the tool kit in the trunk. If you do have one, take it out. Thieves know exactly where to find these spares, and once they break in and find a key, the car’s as good as gone. Also, don’t keep an extra key under the bumper or beneath the floor mat. Thieves routinely check those places as well.
9. Close Your Windows
You might think leaving the windows open a crack couldn’t do any harm, but even that little bit is enough for a thief to slide his fingers or a tool inside to knock the window off its track and get the door open. You might as well leave your car unlocked.
10. Install a tracking device
As a last line of defense, install a GPS tracking device on your car so that in the event it does get stolen, the police will have some help finding it.
11. Costly Mistakes
Leaving your phone on the seat or letting your car idle for a few minutes might not seem like a big deal, but in a split-second, you could be regretting that decision. Be cautious, and don’t make these lazy mistakes. You’re better off being safe than sorry.
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