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 releases its “Hot Spots” report, listing the 10 areas with the highest per capita vehicle theft rate. In the 2016 report (published in June, 2017), Albuquerque, N.M., topped the list with 10,011 reported thefts, while six of the top 10 spots are in California. Overall, vehicle theft is up 6.6 percent across the nation.
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: 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.
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
Even if you’re just jumping out for a minute, it’s safer—and more fuel-efficient—to completely turn off the engine.
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). “Complacency can lead to a huge financial loss and inconvenience for the vehicle owner,” said NICB president and CEO Joe Wehrle in a 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.”
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
Originally published March 2017