While there is no foolproof way to safeguard a vehicle against theft, there are many “no cost” deterrents owners can use to protect themselves and their automobiles. For example, a thief’s greatest enemy is time. The more difficult your vehicle is to steal, the longer it takes to be stolen. The longer it takes, the more likely it is that the thief will move on to an easier target.
Don’t become complacent because you drive an older-model vehicle. Older vehicles can be resold quickly or stripped for parts. A vehicle’s parts are worth two or three times the value of the vehicle.
Here are some tips to help protect you and your vehicle:
- Close all windows, lock all doors and take the keys with you. In Florida, almost 25 percent of stolen vehicles had the keys in them.
- Never hide a second set of keys anywhere on your vehicle. Thieves know all the hiding places.
- Never leave your vehicle running, even if you will only be gone for a minute; Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations and ATMs.
- Park in well-lighted areas. Over 50 percent of vehicle thefts occur at night.
- Use your garage; lock both the vehicle and the garage. Locking both doors greatly reduces the chance of theft.
- Keep your garage door opener with you. The thief may attempt to get into your house.
- Don’t leave your original registration or title in your car. File the title at home in a safe place and carry your registration in your purse or wallet. When sharing a vehicle, provide a copy of the registration to other drivers to carry in their purse or wallet. If a thief has these two documents, your car will be easier to sell.
- Park in attended lots. Thieves don’t like witnesses.
- Park your vehicle with wheels turned toward the curb, even when parking in driveways and parking lots. This makes your vehicle difficult to tow.
- Don’t become complacent because you drive an older-model vehicle. Older cars can be resold quickly or stripped for parts. A vehicle’s parts are worth two to three times the value of the car.
- Put all packages and personal items out of sight. Items left in the open make your vehicle a more desirable target.
- Have your VIN number etched onto your windows. This makes it difficult for a thief to switch VIN numbers on a stolen vehicle.
An anti-theft device is a device that helps prevent vandalism to or theft of a motor vehicle and its contents. They can be locking devices, cut-off devices, alarms, sensors or tracking devices. Other methods of anti-theft protection include etching of the vehicle identification number (VIN). Many insurance companies give discounts for each method used.
Types of Locking Devices
- Steering Wheel Bar Lock — The most popular is The Club, a steel bar that clamps on the steering wheel and makes the vehicle impossible to steer. They are an effective deterrent because of their imposing presence on the steering wheel.
- Steering Column Collar — Protects entry to the ignition through the column.
- Tire/Wheel Locks — Tool wraps around the tire or wheel to immobilize the vehicle.
- Gearshift Lock — Locks gearshift in place, making it impossible to shift transmission into gear.
- Ignition Kill Switch — Toggle switch is spliced into the ignition that disables the vehicle when the switch is “off.”
- Fuel Kill Switch — Switch is spliced into the fuel system wiring that halts fuel supply when “off.”
- Alarm — A motor vehicle’s horn, bell, siren or other sounding device that is easily audible at 300 feet.
Some alarms have an automatic shut-off and reset capability that provides for the alarm to sound for not more than four minutes, shut off and then immediately rearm itself. Other alarms have a backup battery which is an auxiliary power source that trips an alarm device if the main power source is disconnected or if the wires to the alarm device are cut or disconnected.