When it comes to preventing auto theft, knowledge is power. No driver wants to deal with their vehicle being stolen, but luckily there are plenty of tips and tricks you could use to keep your car exactly where it belongs: in your hands.
One easy preventative measure is to figure out if you live in a region that is more prone to auto theft than some other regions—and plan accordingly. California, for example, has some of the highest vehicle theft rates in the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual “Hot Spots” report. (View the top 10 places where your car is most likely to be stolen.)
Read on for more ways drivers can protect their cars—and themselves—no matter where the road takes them.
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: In 2015, a whopping 57,096 cars were stolen with the keys or fob in the car, a 22 percent increase over the previous year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This translates to a car being swiped every six-and-a-half minutes.
Keep an Eye Out
Pay attention to your surroundings when you exit your vehicle. Being distracted or hurried can leave you vulnerable and forgetful. Make a point of remembering your keys. “Complacency can lead to a huge financial loss and inconvenience for the vehicle owner,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle in a November 2016 press release. “Leaving a vehicle unlocked or with the key or fob inside gives a thief the opportunity to take not only the car, but also any possessions inside.”
Stash Your Stuff
Always take your garage door opener and valuables with you, even if it is slightly inconvenient. Keep your vehicle registration in your wallet or purse. Don’t leave it in the car, in case your vehicle is stolen.
Never 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.
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.
To further protect your vehicle, get a fast, free, and personalized auto insurance quote from GEICO to see how much you could save.
By Kara Cutruzzula
Read more: What to do immediately after an auto theft