Car safety tips: Stop theft before it happens — CNET

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for making the most of your home, inside and out.

If you’ve ever experienced a carjacking, you know that sinking feeling of returning to your vehicle to find the doors open and contents strewn across the seats, or discovering that your car is completely gone. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think: more than 700,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the US in 2019, according to the fbi. The number of people who were victims of having valuables stolen from their cars is more difficult to measure as it often goes unreported, but it’s probably much more common than auto theft.

However, by following a few simple steps, you can protect your car and the belongings inside it from theft. That is how.

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Keep your car doors closed and windows rolled up

One of the easiest ways to protect your car is to close the doors and windows when you are not in the vehicle.

Property crimes are often crimes of opportunity: open windows and unlocked doors can easily attract thieves or give them the opportunity to strike quickly and keep a low profile. If would-be thieves can’t get to your car quickly, they’ll often just keep moving.

Secure your car keys

Having access to a key is the easiest way for a thief to steal a vehicle; For example, during one month in 2020 in Austin, Texas, 72% of the 322 stolen cars they had their keys hidden nearby.

First of all, never leave your keys in your vehicle, even if you’re just going to a convenience store or other place for a minute or two. Second, be careful where you keep your spare key. Storing your spare key outside or inside your car can make it easier for thieves to steal your car. And thanks to the push-start features found in new vehicles, a thief wouldn’t even have to find the key in the vehicle to steal it; it would be enough if the key was there.

Park your car in safe areas

Be careful where you park your car. When possible, park your car in a secure garage that is not publicly accessible; this could be your own garage or a company garage that requires a remote to access.

When you have to park outside, be selective about where you leave your car. First, look for well-lit areas that might deter a thief. Avoid remote areas where a thief might try to break into your car without anyone seeing. Finally, especially in the case of parking lots, look for places under a CCTV camera or other security device. Just the prospect of being caught on camera may be enough to discourage a thief.

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Get valuables out of the car

Valuables that are visible inside a vehicle can be attractive to would-be thieves. Avoid leaving your bag, phone, or any other expensive items in your vehicle. Also avoid leaving shopping bags or other luggage in your car, as these indicate the presence of something new or valuable, even if they are empty or contain only a few purchases.

As an alternative, try leaving your belongings in the trunk of the car. If you have a cargo area in your truck or SUV, consider using a cargo cover as well.

front of a car

Avoid leaving your bag, phone, or any other expensive items in your vehicle.

Craig Cole/Roading Show

Protect your car wheels

You may be surprised to learn that the wheels on your car may also be at risk of theft. In fact, one estimate found that approximately $1 million worth of tires are stolen each year. Why? They can be easy to remove quickly and have a high resale value, especially if they are expensive models.

Protecting your car wheels not only makes it more difficult for a thief to steal your wheels, it can also prevent them from driving away with your vehicle. Devices that can be used to secure your car wheels include lug nut locks and wheel clamps, though the latter is probably only worthwhile in cases where you’ll be leaving your car unattended for a longer period of time, or if you’re in a particularly high crime area.

Activate your car alarm

Most cars today come with a built-in alarm system. When the alarm goes off, often when someone opens the car door or tries to start the car while the alarm is on, the car makes a loud noise. This noise can often be enough to deter a burglar, as they will not want the attention the alarm generates.

If your car doesn’t have a built-in alarm or you don’t think it’s enough, you can also purchase an aftermarket alarm to keep your vehicle safe.

Install security devices

In most cases, simple precautionary steps like locking doors, closing windows, and parking in secure spots will be enough to prevent thieves from breaking into or stealing your car. But for those who want extra protection, there are some devices that they can use.

First a vehicle immobilizer prevents a thief from starting without the key, which can prevent hot wiring. Newer vehicles usually have them built in, but you can buy aftermarket immobilizers for older vehicles.

Another device you can buy is a steering wheel lock. This type of device attaches to the steering wheel and immobilizes it until it is unlocked. A steering wheel lock can deter thieves as it would be more work to steal your car and therefore create a higher risk of getting caught.

Properly insure your vehicle

The seven tips above can help you keep your vehicle and belongings safe and prevent thieves from taking your car. Unfortunately, few precautionary measures are completely fail-safe and it’s important to have a backup plan. a sympathetic car insurance policy will ensure that if your car is stolen or damaged, you will be compensated for your loss.

Hundreds of thousands of people are victims of vehicle theft each year, and even more have their vehicles damaged or items stolen from their vehicles. Just a few simple precautionary measures can help deter thieves and protect your vehicle. For more information on how to keep your belongings safe, visit our library of home security items or read more about secure remote start your car.

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