Don't make it easy for car thieves
Want to make your vehicle less attractive to car thieves? The quicker a car thief can steal your vehicle, the more attractive it is. Anything you can do to slow down professional car thieves or joy-riders, say the auto insurance experts at GEICO, will make your vehicle a less appealing target.
What you can do
Here are some ways GEICO recommends to help drivers protect their vehicles:
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.
- When parked, never leave your keys in the car. Close all the windows and the sunroof.
- Never leave your car running and unattended.
- Avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle where passersby can see them.
- Do not leave your vehicle title in the car. Too often a car thief is pulled over and gets away from the police because he or she can produce the auto registration. (If multiple drivers use the vehicle, the best suggestion would be to hide the registration in a secret location in the car that only the owners know.)
- Know where you’re going. Avoid known highcrime areas even if the alternate route takes longer.
- Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they know the cars can be recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for the types of systems listed below.
- Thieves prefer to work in the dark. Be particularly cautious at night about where you park your car. Park it in a well-lit area if possible.
- Look around. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations.
- Have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows. Car thieves want to get off cheap. They don’t want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass.
- On an incline, leave your car in park or in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb or some other obstruction. This makes it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle.
- If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can’t.
Types of anti-theft systems
- A mechanism that locks onto the steering wheel can be a very visible sign that you’ve taken steps to protect your vehicle.
- Ignition cut-off systems that prevent a car from being started.
- Some new cars come with passive alarms that activate automatically when the key is removed from the ignition.
- One system emits a signal that can be tracked by the police.
Who you're dealing with
- Professionals commit the majority of auto thefts.
- They prefer high-performance cars, as well as less exotic, more popular models whose parts are interchangeable.
- These thieves usually turn the cars they steal over to “chop shops,” which dismantle them and sell the parts.
- They also steal cars for export to other countries, often “stealing to order” to fulfill requests for certain types of vehicles.
Joy-riders favor high-performance or luxury cars. These cars are usually recovered but often suffer significant damage.
Carjackers may bump your car from the rear, then steal it when you get out to look for damage. When stopped at a traffic light, leave room to maneuver around the vehicle ahead if you need to.
If another car bumps yours and you feel threatened, drive to a populated area or, if you have a cellular phone, call the police for assistance.