As Theft Rates Rise, How Can You Protect Your Car?

 

Car driver

According to a report in USA Today, thieves stole more vehicles in 2017 than in any single year since 2009. The reason? It’s not because thieves are getting smarter—instead, there are new opportunities that are in large part due to new technology. The price of vehicles is going up as well, which is providing more incentive.

Many vehicles are equipped with push-start buttons. If the key fob is in the vehicle, then you can drive away with it. Basically, all a thief has to do is find a car with a key fob left inside, and they can steal it. 

In 2017, vehicle thefts totaled more than 773,139, and that was a 12.6% increase from an all-time low in 2014. The rate at which vehicles are being stolen, which compares the volume of vehicles to the U.S. population, also rose for the third consecutive year in 2017. 

Certain areas of the country may mean you’re more likely to be the victim of automobile theft, as well. For example, most car thefts occur in Western states including California, Nevada and New Mexico. 

The following are tips to lower your risk of being a victim of automobile theft. 

Remove Your Keys From the Vehicle

If the above statistics tell us anything, it’s that it’s important to always make sure you remove your keys and your key fob from your car. This includes not only the ignition but anywhere in your vehicle. Even if you’re just running in somewhere for a minute, don’t leave your keys in the car. 

In addition to always removing your keys, make sure you never leave your car running. When it’s cold outside, it might be very tempting to turn your car on early and warm it up or leave it on if you’re going in somewhere very quickly, but it’s a big draw for car thefts. 

Before you get out of your vehicle, make sure you turn it off and take the keys with you, every time. 

In case you need any more incentive to follow this tip, in 31 states, it’s illegal to leave your car idling whether you’re inside of it or not. This is for environmental reasons. 

Lock Your Vehicle

The idea of locking our vehicles has somewhat fallen out of favor, and it’s something many of us forget to do. You want to always lock your vehicle because it’s one more step you can take to make it more difficult for someone to steal it. 

If a thief happens upon an unlocked car, they don’t have to spend that extra time trying to get into it. 

Additionally, if you have a newer car and you leave the fob in it, it will prevent the car from locking in many cases. 

Be Careful About Where You Park

Car thieves prefer to be hidden out-of-sight when they’re stealing a car. They want to reduce the risk of cameras or witnesses catching them. You can deter a thief by being smart about where you park.

Always park in a well-lit area, and if you can, choose lots or garages with cameras or security monitoring. The busier the place you can park, the better. 

If you park in your own driveway, consider equipping the area with cameras as well as motion-detector lights if you don’t have a lockable garage. 

Use GPS Protection

If you have GPS protection, it can help you in the event that your car is stolen. With GPS tracking technology, in the event that you’re the victim of theft, the technology will be able to determine the location of the vehicle. 

Anti-Theft Equipment

If you live in an area where there’s a higher risk of car theft, and you have to park on the street or other vulnerable areas, you might want to invest in anti-theft equipment. One of the old-school options is a steering wheel lock. It does what you would think—it attaches to your steering wheel and prevents someone from driving away. 

There’s also a tire lock, which is similar to what police use when someone parks illegally. 

These are typically only used if you’re going to be parking for a long time, however, because they can be time-consuming to install. 

Finally, an advanced option is a kill switch. This is something you’d probably need to have professionally installed, and it disrupts the flow of electricity of various car systems. It would likely be enough to deter a car thief by frustrating them. 

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