Over 800,000 vehicles were reported stolen in the past year, initiating a strong sense of fear among drivers. There's nothing worse than returning to the parking lot to find your door cranked open, your precious possessions gone, and irreparable damage to your vehicle — if it's there at all.
How then, can you keep yourself safe? With a few simple tips, you can help deter car break-ins before they occur, providing peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you're in a rush for an urgent appointment, caution tends to fall by the wayside. Regardless of the situation, always seek out the most secure parking available to you.
Ideally, this should be a well-lit parking garage or one with fob access that the public can't use. If outdoors is your only option, avoid remote areas at all costs, looking for those surrounded by CCTV cameras, crowds, and lighting.
So you've just got your spouse's wedding ring re-sized, and now you're making a run to the shops. Whatever you do, never leave that ring (or any other valuables) inside your vehicle.
Would-be burglars spot a purse, a suitcase, or shopping bags, and they're prepared to pounce. When valuables are stowed out of the way, there's less chance they'll even attempt it.
While most vehicles contain a built-in alarm system, it's pointless if it's not put to use. Always activate your alarm; it only takes seconds for a burglar to break in, so that quick sushi run could be just as damaging as that hours-long appointment.
If someone makes an attempt, the sound alone is often enough to frighten them off, and if not, the attention from others certainly will.
It's simple, quick, and always a must. Most break-ins aren't planned; they're simply crimes of opportunity. Despite your best efforts, if you leave your doors unlocked, you're inviting trouble.
Once a thief gains entry to your car, it's all over, so always lock your doors, even if you're dashing inside for just a few minutes.
Many drivers who are quick to lock their doors and activate their alarm system don't mind leaving the windows rolled down. It's always just a couple of inches, or only for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, that's all it takes. Burglars are experts at working their way around obstacles, and windows opened a few inches are all that's required to make getting in that much easier.
Since thieves are well-practiced in their entry and start-up methods, most know how to get your vehicle going without using a key. Thankfully, you can stop them in their tracks with an immobilizer, which includes a receiver inside your vehicle and a transponder within your key.
Your vehicle will only start when you place that specific key in the ignition, making hot-wiring a thing of the past.
A steering wheel lock makes it nearly impossible to get your vehicle moving, so most thieves will simply give up. Even spotting this lock is enough to stop many of them, and in case they do pounce, breaking into this device is so time-consuming and difficult that they'll probably just move on.
Protecting your wheels provides you with two benefits. First, thieves won't be able to steal them, and second, they'll be unable to drive off. Shop for locking lug nuts or wheel locks. These secure versions function just like regular lug nuts, but they require a key for removal.
Each set contains its own key, so there's no way for a thief to take off with your wheels.
No protection plan is entirely foolproof, so if thieves do somehow access your vehicle, have a backup plan. When shopping for an auto insurance policy, seek out a comprehensive plan that includes coverage for stolen or damaged vehicles, and/or the ability to use a rental vehicle in case of damage.
Always trust your instincts. If you notice suspicious activity, say something to a shop attendant or the police.
While the trunk is a slightly safer space to stow shopping bags, keep in mind that thieves know this too. Try moving items there before you arrive at the parking lot so thieves can't watch you do so.