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5 Best Tips for How to Prevent Your Car From Being Stolen

By Jarrod Heil

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Car theft is an unfortunate fact of life that you never think will occur to you. But the heart of the matter is that more than 2,200 vehicles are stolen in the United States each day.

Yup, according to a study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, that’s more than 800,000 thefts each year.

Still think it can’t happen to you? Well, if you take these five tips to heart and invoke them in your everyday life, you can drastically reduce your chances of falling victim to vehicle theft.

1. Secure Your Vehicle

The easiest way to prevent car theft is by simply locking your doors and making sure your windows are rolled up each time you leave your car — even if you store your vehicle in your own garage. Locking doors will deter thieves from stealing your car because they’d have to break into it, too.

It sounds simple enough to lock your vehicle and roll the windows up when you’re not around. But you’d be surprised by how many cars are broken into each year, and how many of those vehicles had unlocked doors to begin with. Remember, thieves typically strike at nighttime when you’re fast asleep.

2. Pick Your Parking Wisely

There are a few pretty simple tactics you can take each time you park your car. When parking, choose spots that are close to entrances or security cameras. These two things are the cheapest forms of auto theft deterrent when parking.

You may want to park further from the entrance to get your daily steps in, but those steps could lead to a stolen car if you’re not careful. 

When you’re parking your vehicle in a parking lot at night (or if your car will be parked in a parking lot at night), you’ll want to park directly under lights. Lights put a spotlight on thieves, so they’re much more likely to break into cars hiding in a dark corner somewhere.

It may be difficult to remember these wise parking tips at first, but the more you do them, the easier picking your parking wisely becomes.

3. Take Valuables With You

Electronics, wallets, purses and other valuable items sitting in your car in plain sight probably make thieves’ mouths water. Those are easy targets to go after. While a snatch-and-grab like that may not lead to your vehicle being stolen, they may get daring once the thief gets into the car.

Even hiding valuables somewhere in your car isn’t the best idea. Thieves usually stake out parking lots and hit cars they know have money makers in them. You never know if the thief could be watching you put that brand new iPad under the seat of your car.

4. Don’t Leave Your Keys in the Car

Leaving your keys in the car, or leaving your car running, may be common in small-town America, but it isn’t smart to do. You never know who could be lurking around, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump in your vehicle and speed away.

Never leave your car running when you run into a store or gas station, and never leave your keys laying in plain sight in your vehicle. In fact, it’s best not to leave any keys in plain sight within your car — whether they’re your house keys or keys to the second vehicle. Thieves don’t know that, and they’ll see it as an easy target.

Have you ever heard of the bump and rob? It’s a technique becoming popular with car thieves that consist of someone bumping into the back of your vehicle and another person stealing your vehicle when you get out to look for damage.

5. Invest in Anti-Theft Devices

Anti-theft devices aren’t just a great tool for deterring thieves, they can actually lower your car insurance premiums. Yup, many car insurance companies offer discounts for drivers with anti-theft devices because they reduce the probability of you filing a claim for a stolen vehicle.

Anti-theft devices range from the obvious loud car alarms that scare off thieves immediately to tracking and immobilization devices that actively work to prevent vehicle theft.

Tracking and immobilizing devices have become increasingly cheaper over the past few years, with the lower end devices only set you back about $20.

A tracking device installs a GPS transmitter inside your vehicle so you can track it anywhere, anytime. An immobilizing device is a bit more expensive, but it actually prevents thieves from being able to hotwire your vehicle if they get inside without a set of keys.

Some newer cars come with built-in anti-theft devices that you may pay a little extra for. Other devices can cost a pretty penny or be found pretty cheap online. The rest of the theft prevention items on this list are entirely free!