Cars are investments, and every investment deserves the best in terms of security. Security should be a priority for drivers even if cars were not at risk of theft. Not every car is built to the security standards of a Tesla, or with the schematics of a bulletproof car, so drivers have to realize that their vehicles have some inherent flaws that criminals can take advantage of.
Some of these flaws are compounded by the bad habits of car owners and also by the wiles of criminals. With so much at stake and so many factors influencing the safety of cars, I would like to help car owners tip the scales in their favor. So, today we will take an in depth look at some car security tips you can use to prevent your car from being stolen.
Notable Car Theft Statistics
There is no shortage of statistics to show you the way car theft has evolved over the years, and to also show its current trajectory. According to data collected by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, the estimated number of motor vehicle thefts increased by 3.1% (2015). In terms of monetary value, motor vehicle theft accounted for the loss of more than $4.9 billion, and 74.7% of motor vehicles stolen were automobiles.
This data clarifies a few things. First, it shows that automobiles are a favorite among motor vehicle thieves. Essentially, this means that drivers have to do all that they can to minimize their exposure to car thieves. Cars are not the only motor vehicles that are threatened, a guide to motorcycle security would be handy as well. However, cars are the highest number of motor vehicles stolen, so for today’s article that will be our focal point. Ideally, these car security tips should help you practice better automotive security, regardless of whether you want to keep your car safe at home, or keep your car safe abroad.
Car Theft Practices
Before we dive into the car security tips that will help you prevent your car from being stolen, let’s take a look at some of the threats your vehicle faces. I do believe that understanding these threats makes it immensely easier for you to implement the necessary solutions.
Car thieves usually target vehicles in two unique ways. The first method requires opportunity as a precedent and the second requires immaculate planning. Knowing this helps keep drivers aware of how they can be targeted which, in turn, helps them fight back. A crime of opportunity means that in a specific moment, a car thief singles you out because they can tell that you are vulnerable in some way.
This is usually how most carjackings come about. A planned heist requires much more thought and is hardly ever done in the spur of the moment. Here are some handy car security tips that will help prevent your car from being stolen, and keep you and your investment safe in the process:
- Keep your car doors locked at all times
Learning to lock your car doors at all times is probably the most crucial security tip that you need to know. When I say at all times, I mean at all times, even while you are driving and the car is in motion. Unfortunately, most drivers believe in the common misconception that their cars can only be targeted while the vehicle is at rest. However, car thieves have a plethora of skills that they can use to compromise vehicles that are in motion. This is a unique danger that is ever present, which is why you have to make sure that your car is locked at all times.
In comparison to residential and commercial door locks, car door locks cannot be overcome with all of the same methods. For instance, a burglar might be able to bump a residential door lock, but luckily for drivers, bump keys don’t work on cars. This does not mean that there aren’t other methods that car thieves might use to get into your vehicle. Many car thieves prey on an opportunity, and there is no better opportunity to them than stumbling across a car that is not locked.
Stealing the car becomes much easier for them if the vehicle is at rest, but they are not above carjacking. Carjacking is defined as the action of violently stealing an occupied car. Many car thieves utilize this method to steal cars that are occupied or in motion. Constantly locking your doors is the first safeguard against thieves that would seek to steal your vehicle.
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended
Leaving your vehicle unattended, especially when it is unlocked, is an efficient way to get your car stolen. Remember how I pointed out that car theft is often a crime of opportunity? An unlocked car that is left unattended is the perfect opportunity for any car thief. I completely understand that it is rather difficult to always keep an eye on your vehicle, after all, you are probably a very busy person. However, there are some tricks that you can utilize to make sure that your vehicle is always within someone’s field of vision.
First, try to avoid parking in isolated areas that are not well lit. Parking in locations like this reduces the visibility that you afford your vehicle, and doing so increases the likelihood of a criminal successfully stealing your car. Most criminals abhor visibility because it leaves them exposed, use this to your advantage. You do not always have to be physically present to keep an eye on your vehicle. There are several auxiliary measures that make it easier for you to keep an eye on your car, directly or indirectly.
- Do not leave your car running
Another handy tip that helps many drivers out, is learning not to leave their car running, even if they step away from their vehicle for a few seconds. People often take the influence that time has on a crime for granted. The truth is, given even a sliver of time, a criminal will do the best they can to make the most out of it. I am tempted to say car thieves are inspirational, but they are not.
It is important for drivers to develop the habit of turning their vehicles off and ensuring that everything is securely stowed away, even if they are moving away for a brief moment. Turning your car off and taking your keys with you, is simply another way of keeping your car secured. As the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Practicing this will reduce the likelihood that your vehicle becomes another statistic that the FBI UCR references.
- Always roll up your windows
Rolling up your windows is the perfect complementary action to constantly locking your doors. It is simply another measure that helps keep your car sealed away and protected. Windows are one of the primary access points that car thieves use to compromise vehicles, therefore reinforcing them and keeping them rolled all the way up makes your vehicle more impenetrable.
I know that there are some car owners who believe in humanity so much so that they choose to leave their windows rolled down, especially in the summer. I am not sure if this is done because of the faith they have in humanity, or the faith they have in the security of their vehicle. The truth is, vehicles are very similar to locks. If a car thief is given enough time, they can break into a car and steal it, the same way all locks can be picked given enough time. For this reason, you should strive to avoid giving criminals any kind of access to your vehicle.
- Install car alarm systems
Car alarms are the face of modern automobile security, and they actively help increase the security of your vehicle. A car alarm is the perfect solution for an extra layer of protection that will stay active even if you are not in close proximity to your vehicle. The alarm serves to notify you of any danger, and can also help notify individuals within the general vicinity that something might be amiss. This is the easiest way to call a good samaritan to your aid when you are in need of help.
A common security mistake that people make with their classic cars is that they never have a car alarm installed. This ends up making their vehicles more vulnerable and susceptible to car theft. In this day and age, car alarm systems are commonly paired with keyless entry remotes that enhance automotive security. Car alarm systems can also be paired with anti-theft mechanisms like cruciform locks used to guard steering wheels. These are simple methods that can be used to layer your security measures, and ensure that there is a backup in place should one measure fail to prevent your car from being broken into during an attempted theft.
- Plan your route whenever you are driving
Before you take up arms against me, you should know that I am not advocating against spontaneous trips because I love them just as much as the next guy. However, I do believe that taking the time to plan your route, whenever you are driving will help prevent your car from being stolen. Planning your route out allows you to be better prepared for any eventuality and it negates the possibility of a car thief being able to take advantage of you, by catching your off guard.
Realistically speaking, you will not always have the luxury to plan your route because unexpected things happen every now and then. However, you should attempt to do this whenever you get the chance. Planning your route will inform your actions and it will help you know what to avoid and how to navigate certain areas. For instance, if you are aware that you will be traveling through a specific area that is considered dangerous or prone to carjackings, it will inform you to keep your doors locked and your windows rolled at all times.
- Practice proper automotive maintenance
Maintenance is a key car security tip that is often never implemented. In this instance, there are several different automotive components that need to be maintained. Many of the mechanisms that are used to protect your vehicle are prone to damage and wear over time. Practicing proper maintenance is one of the simplest ways of keeping your car security measures in prime condition.
Some of the components that you have to keep well maintained include your car door locks and their corresponding lock cylinders, car alarm systems, transponders and key fobs, windows, etc. If any of these components are not properly maintained, there is is a chance that they will be taken advantage of. The simplest way to plan for the maintenance of any of these features, is to pay attention to them while they are in use. Doing so will help you learn how they function, so that you can spot any wear or damage that has to be taken care of. For instance, if you notice any physical wear on your car keys, you should work to have a duplicate car key made to avoid the scenario where your key breaks off in your lock.
- Stay aware of your surroundings at all times
Situational awareness is an invaluable tool, and one that can be utilized to increase the security of your automobile in any given situation. One of the best ways to practice situational awareness is to constantly study your surroundings and understand the direct impact that your environment has on your automotive safety. In many ways, situational awareness is a key factor in any type of safety plan, and it is one of the best ways to enhance your personal protection. Assessing your surroundings will influence the way you treat your car and it will directly impact the level of security that you choose to leave it with.
- Do not store important personal documents in your vehicle
Many drivers store personal information in their vehicles, both knowingly and unknowingly. Some of these documents include the car title, driver’s license and other forms of documentation that can be abused by car thieves. There are some documents that should always be in your vehicle whenever you are driving, like your license and your proof of registration. However, when you are not in the vehicle, these documents should be removed and stored in a separate location. These documents will not draw a car thief to take your vehicle, but they might help facilitate their escape if they steal your car.
I know that this sounds rather tedious, but please hear me out. For instance, if a car thief is stopped by a police officer and asked to show proof of ownership, proof of insurance, etc., they will easily be able to produce the required information if it is stored in the vehicle. I am sure that some of you are thinking that if the crime has been reported, then these documents will be of little use to the car thief. Once again, you are underestimating the importance of time. There is no guarantee that you will be able to report a crime fast enough for a car thief not to utilize the information they are given. This is not a direct method that prevents car theft, but one that looks to makes the crime harder to execute successfully.
- Do not keep valuables stored in your vehicle
Storing valuables in your vehicle is a sure fire way to attract car thieves and burglars. There are some car thieves who will simply settle for breaking into the vehicle and picking out an individual item, whereas others will want to take the whole vehicle. It is criminals like these that you have to be wary of because they will attempt to steal your vehicle rather than just settling for the expensive purse or sneakers you left out in the open.
This is something that many mobile locksmiths have to contend with on a daily basis. If someone were to steal an auto locksmiths van, their business and their livelihood will be compromised. A mobile locksmith usually stores their tools and equipment in their van, and some of these items are very expensive and lucrative to a criminal. Leaving things out in the open is bound to attract criminals and car thieves, so you want to do your best to prevent this from happening.
Take the time to look through your car before you step away from it to verify that nothing of value has been left out. In the instance where you absolutely need to keep something stored in the vehicle, try to stow it in your trunk or underneath your car seats. This will help keep the visibility limited.
Protecting your car can be a challenging task, especially because there are so many bases that you have to cover. The points outlined will help you get started and they will help you foster better car security which helps prevent your car from being stolen. Take the time to know your vehicle and know what your flaws are so that you are better equipped to combat them effectively.
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