car with chains wrapped around it

Hands Off My Ride: 5 Ways To Prevent Car Theft

When it comes to preventing car theft, knowledge is power. Fortunately, we have plenty of tip and tricks to help you outsmart thieves and minimize the risk of them stealing your wheels.

First things first, though. You should be aware if you live in a region prone to auto theft. Each year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) releases its “Hot Spots” report, listing the 10 areas with the highest per capita vehicle theft rate. In the 2018 report (published in June 2019), Albuquerque, N.M., once again topped the list with 9,989 reported thefts, while five of the top 10 spots are in California.

Read on for ways you can protect your ride—and yourself—no matter where the road takes you.

Lock The Doors!

It may seem obvious, but locking your car is the simplest way to keep it safe. A recent trend shows that a staggering number of thefts occur because the keys or fob were left inside, dangling in plain sight. According to the NICB, from 2016 to 2018, an average of 209 vehicles per day were stolen in the U.S. because drivers left their keys or fobs in their vehicles, making them an easy and attractive target for thieves. “We can’t stress enough the importance of locking your vehicle and taking the key or fob with you when you leave it,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle in a press release. “Anti-theft technology works, but only if you use it.”

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Park Smart

State departments of motor vehicles recommend parking in well-lit locations. Choose spaces with not just plenty of light, but also plenty of traffic and passersby who are likely to see and report activity around your ride. For overnight parking, avoid low-security lots altogether.

Stash Your Stuff

Always take your garage door opener and valuables with you, even if it’s slightly inconvenient. Keep your vehicle registration in your wallet or purse. Don’t leave it in the car, in case your vehicle does end up getting stolen.

Never Leave It Running

If you live in a cold climate, you may be tempted to warm up the vehicle prior to your morning commute by turning it on and leaving it running while you go back inside for a cup of joe, or to leave it running. Even if you’re just jumping out for a minute, it’s safer—and more fuel-efficient—to completely turn off the engine. It only takes a moment for an opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.

Keep An Eye Out

Pay attention to your surroundings when you get out of your car. Being distracted or hurried can leave you vulnerable and forgetful (like remembering to lock your doors).

NICB Holiday Theft Infographic

To further protect your vehicle, get a fast, free, and personalized auto insurance quote from GEICO to see how much you could save.

Read more: 5 ways to hack-proof your car

By Kara Cutruzzula

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    Leave a comment

    • donna colantuoni says,

      those selfdriving cars we should vote for them to be on the road sorry always room for error

  1. Carol says,

    I drive 6 to 7 days of the week. And practice ALL of the suggestions daily except the caring the garage door opener- but I will now. I’ll even buy the one that someone else suggested in your comments. Great ideas – thank u. And thank u for the garage door opener suggestion to whoever posted it

  2. Carla says,

    Pretty sure I have a fool proof one myself….I drive a manual transmission AKA back in the day known as a “stick shift” LOL. Any time I read a story about an unsuccessful car theft, 9 times out of 10, the thief did not know how to drive one. Feel like there should be a discount because of this *wink*

  3. Jerry McMurry says,

    Great article, but what caught my eye was the lead picture of THE 1970 SERIES CITROEN DS 21 AUTO WITH CHAINS ON IT. Back then I drove and raced several of these wonderful cars. I loved them. It was great to see those lines again! Thank you.

  4. Boyd Stevens says,

    Thanks, I like all the issues regarding safe driving, I’m on the road 7 days a week, do you have a way of sending me safe driving material that I might be able to post in the office where I work or perhaps you can direct me to a website that I might obtain Wall stuff.

  5. Diane Wilson says,

    Garage door opener companies also make a small opener you can put on your key ring, thus eliminating the one provided by the door opener installer. The one I purchased and have had for around 10 years is still operating fine and cost around $40. Safe in your pocket or in a small corner of your handbag.

  6. R. A. Manchester says,

    I drive an older car, but for about 20 years I have been using ‘The Club’ on my steering wheel. The only time I had a car stolen was when I forgot to put ‘The Club’ on. It’s a great product. Only takes a second for me to put it on or take it off. It’s visible and a great deterrent.

    • Peter says,

      Well, the only time my car got broken in, was when it was in the … garage of my apartment building (with security cameras, which unfortunately did not capture what happened behing the car). I had it on the street before then for many years without anything happening.