There are over 263 million cars in the U.S. and in 2015, 707,758 were stolen nationwide, according to FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting. When you consider the measures you can take to prevent your car from being stolen, ask yourself these questions: How often do you get out of your car and leave the keys in the ignition? Do you drive without locking the doors or with the windows down? Have you parked next to a big van or returned to your car to find a big van parked next to it? Do you leave valuables in plain view on your seats? Doing any one of these things increases the chance that your car will be stolen. When it comes to preventing a carjacking from taking place, there are countless anti-theft devices that can help keep your car, and yourself, safe from carjacking. Here are five of our favorites.
Steering Wheel Lock
A steering wheel lock attaches to the steering wheel of the car to lock it in place, preventing someone from driving away. There are two main styles for this lock. The first goes across the steering wheel horizontally and attaches to the wheel at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. On one side the lock extends farther, preventing the wheel from turning very far. The second style attaches to the top of the wheel with the end extending over the front dash to prevent the wheel from turning. Either way, steering wheel locks are easy to install and are a great way to deter most thieves. Another idea is to use a removable, quick-release steering wheel. A car without a steering wheel is hard, if not impossible, to drive.
You have probably seen these used by police if a car is parked illegally, but they are also useful as an anti-theft device. If you have space in your trunk, a tire lock (or boot) is a great way to prevent a carjacking. This is only feasible if you are parking your car for an extended amount of time though. It just doesn’t make sense to attach a boot if you’re filling up with gas or being a good Samaritan by helping someone with a broken-down car. That said, a tire lock prevents someone from driving off with your ride should you park it overnight or in a garage while shopping.
A funny and practical anti-theft device is a baby monitor. There are many monitors that are wireless and have night vision and audio, which allows you to leave the monitor in your car and get live feedback of what is happening. Battery “charge-packs” are also available so you don’t have to take the monitor out of the car, just replace the battery to keep monitoring. Most car thieves will refrain from stealing a car if there is a video camera visible through the window, and if that doesn’t scare them off, you will have video footage to help get your car back. Make sure you have the audio turned up on the receiver, that way you will hear a window getting smashed in.
One of the more advanced anti-theft devices is a kill switch. A kill switch disrupts the flow of electricity to the fuel pump or other critical systems, making it impossible to start the car without flicking the switch. Simply frustrating a car thief will most likely motivate them to move on to the next car, so keeping the kill switch hidden out of view typically does the trick. However, if you want a little more protection, installing several kill switches and designating an order that they must be flipped in makes your car virtually theft-proof. Installing a kill switch is difficult, though, so we suggest installing this device only if you, or a friend, has intimate knowledge of the vehicle’s wiring systems.
Electronic Tracking System
The harsh truth of carjacking is that if a thief really wants your ride, they’ll find a way to take it. While this is not an anti-theft device, it will help police find your car after it has been stolen. Using GPS, electronic tracking systems can typically locate cars even if they are in parking garages or heavily wooded areas. The LoJack, one of the leading electronic tracking options, has a 90% recovery rate and is integrated with many police systems. This device costs just under $700, making it the most expensive option on our list, but it’s a reliable way to track down your car after it has been stolen.
Remember, your safety is more important than your car. Don’t fight with the carjacker (they could have a concealed weapon), and don’t jump in through the window to wrestle over the steering wheel, you could fall out and get run over.
Hopefully your car is never stolen, but if it is, calling the police and waiting for their help is your best option.