Talk to any ‘old school’ car guy and you will probably hear plenty about why older models were better. Fans of older cars appreciate mechanical technology over electronics. It would be interesting to know if car thieves feel the same way. Thanks to all sorts of electronics controlling everything from ignition to security, today’s car thief needs to be a lot more sophisticated.
Back in the day, stealing vehicle required limited knowledge. You had to know how to break in to the ignition system and hot wire the vehicle. It was easy enough to do with practice. Today, cars are not so easily hot-wired. More importantly, they aren’t so easy to break into without drawing a lot of attention.
Nonetheless, car thefts seem to continue unabated. Just in Chicago alone, car thefts were up 96% in 2022, compared to the year before. More than 18,000 vehicles were stolen in the greater Chicago area in that year. This suggests that car thieves are keeping up with technology. They are as sophisticated as they need to be to pull off the crime.
So, how can the average person protect against car theft? There is no perfect solution to the problem. But based on a recently published blog post on the Vivint website, there are a number of strategies that can greatly reduce one’s risk when combined.
Park Close to the Action
The first suggestion is to park your vehicle close to the action – your action, in particular. The closer you are to your vehicle at any given time, the more likely you will notice that someone is messing around with it. Parking as close as possible to a store, medical office, etc. suggests to any car thieves who might be watching you that you won’t be inside for long.
This particular tip loses its relevance when you’re forced to park in monstrous lots holding thousands of cars. The same goes for parking at some venues where there is an implication of you being gone for quite a while. Entertainment venues and shopping malls immediately come to mind. In those situations, parking as close to the front as possible means more foot traffic around your vehicle. That is a better deterrent than no deterrent at all.
Park in Well-Lit Areas
At nighttime, the general rule is to park your car in well-lit areas. Why? Because car thieves who work at night are using the darkness to their advantage. They prefer to work under the cover of darkness because their activities cannot be observed so easily.
You can help them along by parking in dark areas with very little lighting. On the other hand, you can make a car thief’s life harder by parking where there is plenty of light. The more light flooding a given area, the less likely a car thief is to work it.
As an added bonus, parking in well-lit areas reduces the chances of your car being burglarized. Burglars love the darkness every bit as much as car thieves. Where there is light, the chances of getting caught go up. So, burglars look for vehicles in dimly lit areas first.
Park In the Garage
If your home has a garage, use it for its intended purpose. Park your vehicle inside at night. Parking in a garage with a locked door greatly reduces the chances of both car theft and burglary. Only a truly desperate car thief will make the attempt to break in to your garage when there are so many other vehicles sitting outside.
Keep It Locked at All Times
Car owners can help themselves big time by making sure they keep their cars locked at all times. Do not ever get out of your vehicle and walk away while the windows are rolled down. Roll up the windows and lock the doors. Locks may not ultimately stop theft in some situations, but they do offer deterrence. Locking the doors makes it harder for thieves to get in. Given the choice between your car and one that is left unlocked, guess which one is more likely to be stolen?
Utilize Anti-Theft Features and Devices
If your car is equipped with anti-theft devices, like an alarm system, use them. In addition, consider buying a mechanical anti-theft device. You can buy a steering wheel locking mechanism at just about any auto parts store. If you want to spend a little more, consider a car boot. This is a device that goes on one of your wheels to prevent the vehicle from being driven away.
Never Leave the Fob in the Car
According to experts, there are people who leave their key fob in their vehicle. Why isn’t exactly clear. Here’s the problem: one of the ways automakers work to prevent theft is placing microchips in fobs. A car cannot be started if the fob is not within proximity. As such, even a sophisticated car thief who knows how to hot wire a modern vehicle won’t be able to start it. That is, unless the owner leaves the fob behind. Then all bets are off.
Utilize a Tracking Device
Finally, equipping your vehicle with a GPS tracking device is a great idea. It will not prevent theft, but it will help you know exactly where your car is should it ever be stolen. GPS tracking devices can sometimes be integrated with a home security system as well. By doing so, you will be alerted as soon as your vehicle is taken.
Today’s vehicles are much more sophisticated than the cars of old. Today, we essentially drive computers on wheels. That requires car thieves to be more sophisticated themselves. They are up to the challenge, as evidenced by rising car theft rates around the country.
Do not be a victim yourself. Make it as hard as possible for someone to steal your car and get away with it. It is just like home burglary. The harder you make it, the more likely car thieves will stay away from your vehicle.