You get off of work. It’s raining. You run out into the parking lot with your keys in hand, ready to get into your car and head home after a long day. Holding your umbrella, you make it to your normal parking spot and…it’s empty. You spin around in desperation, wondering if you forgot where you left your vehicle earlier that morning. There’s no use looking. Your vehicle has been stolen.
According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), over 730,000 vehicles were stolen in 2010 alone, resulting in about 4 1/2 billion dollars in damages. While the number of auto thefts has declined in recent years, it is still a popular and lucrative crime. The theft of your vehicle would leave you without transportation, result in the loss personal items and information stored in your car, and cause a difficult financial situation, particularly if you do not have insurance on the vehicle. Here are 10 proven ways to reduce the chances of becoming the victim of car theft:
Lock your vehicle. Whether you are talking on the phone or just overly trusting of your neighborhood, failing to lock the doors of your vehicle is an invitation for thieves. This may seem like a simple tip, but it’s the easiest way to deter car thieves.
Don’t leave your keys in your vehicles. Again, this may seem simple but thieves look for easy targets. Never leave your vehicles unattended with the keys in the ignition, lying on the seat, or even in the console.
Roll the windows up. There’s no use locking your doors if you leave the windows rolled down!
Keep your spare keys at home, at the office, or with a family member. Do not attach a spare key to the underside of your vehicle. Car thieves know exactly where to look.
Do not leave your GPS device attached to your windshield or on your dashboard. Such devices entice thieves to enter your vehicle, and once they’re in, they might be tempted to steal the vehicle itself.
Purses, backpacks, and gym bags are also highly attractive to automobile thieves. Store these items in your trunk or hide them under the seats, well out of view. Better yet, take bags and purses with you when you exit your vehicle to ensure that they do not attract thieves.
Electronics also attract potential car thieves. Smartphones, Mp3 players, laptops, and tablet computers are highly desirable items that can entice someone to break into your vehicle. Store these items in your glove box or take them with you.
Be weary of where you park, especially at night. Try to find a parking space as close to the entrance of the building as possible. Park your vehicle around other cars. Avoid desolate areas in large parking lots. In the evening, make sure that you park in a well-lit area to deter car thieves.
Subscribe to OnStar if your car is equipped for this service. OnStar offers many perk for drivers but is a useful tool in preventing stolen vehicles. An Onstar representative can remotely disable your vehicle if you call to report it stolen.
Invest in a car alarm system. A blaring horn and flashing lights will quickly change the mind of a car thief while alerting everyone in the vicinity that a crime is being committed. Car alarm systems come standard in many new vehicles and but can also be installed in any car. If you often store you car in parking decks or less-than reputable areas, the cost of installing an alarm system may be a wise investment.
Make sure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your ride. In addition to these tips to prevent auto theft, check with your automobile insurance agent to ensure that your policy covers stolen vehicles in the unfortunate event that this happens to you.