If you’ve ever walked out of the house in the morning only to find your car’s been stolen, you know the sick feeling. Or, after seeing a late movie at the mall, you’re greeted with an empty spot in the parking lot where you left your car. Whatever your experience, being a victim of car theft is an emotional ride. One you’d rather not take. The same can be said about car insurance companies. The last thing they want to hear is that one of their policy holders’ cars has been stolen.
Unfortunately, they hear it a lot. According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, one million motor vehicles are reported stolen annually. Putting it in perspective, approximately every 28.8 seconds, a vehicle is stolen in the United States. A study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, shows the peak months for car thefts are July and August.
Regardless of the reason, one of the biggest misconceptions about auto theft is where they occur. It turns out that more than 33% of all vehicle thefts occur at or near the car owner’s residence. Furthermore, about 20% of thefts take place in parking lots. That’s definitely food for thought. So is the fact that, while you can’t completely thief-proof your car, you can take numerous preventative measures to keep your car from becoming another statistic.
There are 10 basic tips you can follow to help reduce the risk of having your car stolen.
1. Never leave your car unlocked – This is inviting trouble. Don’t make it easy for thieves by leaving the doors unlocked.
2. Never leave the engine running while unattended – This makes even less sense than leaving the doors unlocked. You’ve basically handed your car to car thieves as a gift. Don’t do it, even for an instant to run into a convenience store. Chances are it won’t be there when you come out.
3. Don’t leave a spare key where thieves can find it – We’ve all been locked out accidentally at one time or another. Yes, it’s a pain, but it’s far better than handing a key to a potential car thief to drive your car away with.
4. Never leave your windows open – Again, sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens and car thieves appreciate the easy pickings.
5. Always park in a well-lit area – Try to avoid parking in areas with poor lighting. Also seek out places with high public visibility…not secluded, far away parking locations.
6. Install a quality audible alarm system or anti-theft device – If your car isn’t already so equipped, install a quality alarm system or anti-theft device.
7. Install an immobilizer system in your vehicle – Because car thieves are almost always one step ahead of technology and can hotwire your car, a secondary preventive device such as a hidden ignition kill switch, fuel cut-off or smart keys can keep your car in your driveway and not in a chop shop.
8. Install a GPS tracking system – Many newer cars and trucks come with the optional security system. If your car is stolen, a tracking system such as Lojack will emit a signal to advise the police of your vehicle’s location, assisting in a faster recovery and minimizing the potential damage to your car.
9. Never leave valuable items in full view – If you do, you might as well put a sign on your car alerting car thieves to free stuff. “Just break glass”. Don’t leave valuables such as purses, iPhones or tablets in plain view. If you have something you value, place it under the seat or in the trunk and out of sight.
10. Don’t take anything for granted – By all means, use common sense. If you don’t have a good feeling about your or your car’s safety, listen to your instincts. Don’t park where it might be unsafe for either of you. Move on to a safer place even if you have to walk a little.
Remember…if thieves really want your car…they’ll get it. If confronted, let them take it. You can always get another car. Lives are irreplaceable.
While you’re checking on anti-theft measures, make sure you’re getting the best rate on your car insurance. Why not get a free car insurance quote today?
Do you follow your own set of rules when it comes to keeping your car safe from thieves? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.