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How to Prevent Your Car from Being Stolen

Man stealing a bag out of an unsecured car with the windows down

The best way to protect your vehicle is to make it as difficult as possible to steal. While there’s no such thing as being theft-proof, taking security precautions gives you the lowest chances of being a target. We’ll also show you what items are commonly stolen and how to secure them. Here are seven tips on how to prevent your car from being stolen.

1: Protect your keys

Always keep your keys on you when you leave your car, no matter how brief. Likewise, never leave your car running when you’re not inside of it.

If you have multiple keys, don’t leave the spares in your car. Remove the valet key if your car came with one.

2: Secure your locks

Prevent easy access to the interior of your car by making sure your windows are rolled up. Leaving a window cracked slightly, even during the summer, can allow a thief to quickly break in.

If you have a convertible or a car with a sunroof, always put the top back up when you’re parked.

Of course, this also means making sure your doors or trunk are locked and secure as well. Thieves will walk through parking lots, often in broad daylight, grabbing door handles until they find an unlocked car. Check that your doors are locked before you walk away so you’re not an easy target.

3: Get an Alarm System

While most cars come with a car alarm installed from the factory, older cars may not have them standard. In that case, you can get a mechanic to install an aftermarket car alarm device. When triggered, the loud noise should draw unwanted attention to the thief.

4: Don’t be a target

The best way to avoid being a victim of theft is to reduce your chances of being targeted. Park in well-trafficked, well-lit areas if possible. The key to deterring would-be thieves is to make it obvious your vehicle is not an easy target.

5: Anti-theft devices

If your car has any of these anti-theft upgrades installed, you could also save on your car insurance. We offer discounts for anti-theft systems, so talk to your friendly Plymouth Rock insurance expert to find out how much you can save.

Auto Kill Switch
An auto kill switch, or cut off switch, disconnects parts of your car to prevent your car from starting. Kill switches can be installed to the battery, ignition and even the fuel line.

The simplest kind of kill switch is physically installed in a hidden location in the cabin of your car. There are also wireless remote kill switch systems. Some advanced kill switches even let you use your smartphone.

Car Tracking (Vehicle Recovery System)
GPS tracking systems help you locate your car in the event of theft. This helps law enforcement track down your car, and in many cases recover it faster. Some manufacturers will offer GPS tracking from the factory for newer cars too.

Immobilizer device
An immobilizer device prevents your car from starting if the right transponder isn’t detected. Most cars made after 2010 have immobilizer systems installed from the factory. If your older vehicle doesn’t have an immobilizer system, you can get an aftermarket one installed.

Hidden security measures often come with stickers to deter theft, which you should place visibly on your driver window. This alerts would-be thieves that your car will be difficult to steal or sell, and not worth the time and effort to attempt.

Steering wheel locks
A steering wheel lock is a device that hooks onto your steering wheel to make difficult or impossible to operate. Visible anti-theft measures like a steering wheel lock tell thieves that your car will be difficult to take without a lot of noise and effort. More often than not, they’ll move on to an easier score.

Window VIN Etching
Etching your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on your windows makes it difficult for a thief to quickly re-sell your car. VIN tags and plates are easily removed, but it’s expensive for a thief or chop shop to replace marked windows.

The windows themselves are desirable parts, but etched windows are impossible to sell and are worthless to thieves. You can get inexpensive kits to etch your windows by yourself.

6: Give thieves no reason to enter your car

Tracking and anti-theft systems are a great way to protect the car itself. But they won’t stop a thief from simply smashing your windows and taking valuables out of your car. Thieves look for easy targets, so the best way to protect your items is to hide them or not have them in your car in the first place.

Never leave personal items, especially valuable ones, in plain sight inside your car. Sunglasses, phones or other small electronics can be easily stolen if a thief can reach inside. The safest place is at home or on your person, but you should tuck them into the glove compartment or under the seat if you must.

Backpacks and other bags are also prime targets for thieves. To a thief, it’s likely there are valuables like laptops inside. Even if your bag is empty, the thief won’t know that until your window is broken and they’ve stolen it.

If you have an SUV, hatchback or other vehicle with an open cargo area, get a retractable shade or cover. You can find ones that fit your specific make and model. While it’s best to take valuables with you or leave them at home, a shade or cover can help deter theft by keeping items out of plain sight.

If you leave things in your trunk, take care that you put them in there before you arrive anywhere. Thieves will target people they see storing items in their trunk.

Common items stolen and how to protect them

Car battery
Most batteries are located under the hood of your car, but can also be in the trunk on smaller cars. The best way to secure your car battery is eliminate easy access to where it’s kept. Make sure your doors are locked and your windows are up so thieves can’t easily get inside your car and pop the hood. Locking hood pins can help secure your hood, especially if you have an older car.

Antenna
Car antennas are easy targets for theft and vandalism, especially if you have a particular model of car. Antennas not particularly expensive to replace, but you can secure your car antenna by using red threadlocker to keep it screwed in where it’s supposed to be. Alternatively, you can remove your antenna yourself and place it in the trunk to prevent it from being stolen.

Stereo
As car infotainment systems become more proprietary and integrated in newer cars, they also become increasingly difficult for a thief to steal and resell.

On the other hand, aftermarket stereos and sound systems can still be targets for theft. These items aren’t specific for your car, so they’re easy for a thief to sell.

Many aftermarket stereo units have removable front panels, so you can take it with you each time you exit your car. Avoid playing extremely loud music when you’re near where you’ll park your car, whether that’s at home or out on the road. Don’t let a thief know that your car has expensive audio equipment on board to be stolen!

Wheels
Wheels can be the most difficult item to secure on a car, but you can deter theft with wheel locks. These are lug nuts for your wheels that are keyed to a unique socket. Most cars already come with a set of wheel locks from the factory, and are easy to install yourself.

You can also park in a way that makes it difficult for a thief to access your wheel. Parking near the curb and turning your wheels toward the curb limits access to your car and wheels.

Catalytic Convertor
Your catalytic convertor is part of your car’s exhaust system, located on the underside of your car. It contains various precious metals like platinum that, when exposed to heat, help reduce harmful emissions.

These can be prime targets for theft, as the metals contained inside can be easily extracted and sold. Catalytic convertor thefts have been on the rise in recent years, and these can be among the more difficult parts of a car to secure.

Hybrid vehicles are targeted for their catalytic convertors more often. A hybrid’s catalytic convertor has more of those precious metals compared to ones found on regular combustion engine cars. Vehicles with higher ground clearance like trucks are also targets, as it’s easier for a thief to get underneath.

You can find shields or plates for your specific car make and model that make it more difficult to remove the catalytic convertor. Like with your windows, etching your VIN on a catalytic converter makes it more difficult to sell.

7: Garage security

If you park your car in a garage, make sure your garage itself is secure! Protect your garage with the same attention you give your home.

Automatic lights on timers can give the impression that someone is inside. Use curtains or blinds to hide the contents of your garage if it has windows. Make sure your garage door is made from aluminum or steel, and that it can’t easily be dented or leveraged open.

If your garage has a side door, use a door made of strong material like steel. Install the door to open outward, so that it’s more difficult to force open or kick in. Use multiple locks of different kinds to minimize points of failure. Finally, make sure the door is snug in the frame so a thief can’t reach inside with tools.

Motion-sensing lights can deter thieves when they approach, especially if your garage is in a dimly lit area.

When you’re safe, you save. Call 855-993-4470, get your free quote online, or find an agent to see more ways you can save on car insurance from Plymouth Rock Assurance.