3 Types of Anti-Theft Vehicle Devices

by Susan Evans

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has solutions for all sorts of theft; this is NCIB’s advice on anti-theft for cars. These prices are guidelines; find a solution that best fits your budget. Download the NICB fact sheet on anti-theft devices or visit the NICB site for additional theft solutions.

Warning Devices

A visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected.

  1. Audible Alarms: Audible alarms are typically equipped with motion or impact sensors, which trigger a 120-decibel siren.
    • Cost: $150 – $1,000
    • Benefits: Effective in preventing thefts, burglaries and vandalism
  2. Steering Column Collars: Steering column collars prevent thieves from “hot-wiring” the vehicle. Some collars are installed permanently. Others must be continuously activated.
    • Cost: $100 – $200 installed
    • Benefits: Excellent protection for older vehicles
  3. Steering Wheel Locks: A steering wheel lock is a metal bar designed to prevent the steering wheel from turning.
    • Cost: $25 – $100
    • Benefits: Excellent visual deterrent
  4. Steering Wheel/Brake Pedal Lock: Prevents depression of the brake pedal.
    • Cost: $15 – $80
    • Benefits: Excellent visible deterrent
  5. Tire Locks: Similar to the circular steel “boots” used by many large city police departments, tire locks prevent the vehicle from being driven.
    • Cost: $80 – $200
    • Benefits: Excellent visible deterrent
  6. Tire Deflators: Attaches to the tire valve stem and causes the tire to go flat if the tire rotates before they are removed.
    • Cost: Under $50
    • Benefits: Easy and inexpensive to use.
  7. Theft Deterrent Decals: Theft deterrent decals visually warn thieves the vehicle is protected by an alarm or other antitheft devices.
    • Cost: $2 – $5
    • Benefits: Inexpensive but effective
  8. Identification markers in or on vehicle: Security labels marking various vehicle parts enabling the part to be identified if removed from the vehicle.
    • Cost: $2 – $15
    • Benefits: Inexpensive, discourages thieves from stealing the vehicle and aids in recovery
  9. Window Etching: Etching the vehicle identification number or another traceable number onto the vehicle’s windows makes it difficult for thieves to resell the vehicle or its parts.
    • Cost: Free to $100
    • Benefits: Discourages thieves from stealing the vehicle and aids in recovery
  10. Laminated Glass: Impact-resistant protective glazing applied to vehicle windows designed to fortify the windows against penetration or splintering.
    • Cost: Standard
    • Benefits: Excellent protection for vehicle windows

Immobilizing Devices

Prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle.

  1. Smart Keys: Smart keys contain specially coded computer chips or radio frequencies. Without the exact key, the vehicle’s engine cannot be started.
    • Cost: Standard in some models
    • Benefits: Effective and extremely easy to use
  2. Fuse cut-offs: Short circuits the electrical system, preventing the vehicle from starting.
    • Cost: $40 – $90
    • Benefits: Inexpensive and relatively easy to install
  3. Kill Switches: Kill switches inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch is activated.
    • Cost: $10 – $125
    • Benefits: Inexpensive and relatively easy to install
  4. Starter, ignition and fuel disablers: Short circuits the electrical or fuel system, preventing the vehicle from starting, or causes the vehicle to stop running within a short time.
    • Cost: Standard in some models
    • Benefits: Inexpensive and easy to use

Tracking Devices

Submits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen.

  1. Tracking Devices: Most tracking devices are electronic transmitters hidden in the vehicle, which emit signals to the police or monitoring stations when the vehicle is reported stolen.
    • Cost: $400 to $1,500
    • Benefits: Effective in recovering stolen vehicles

Common Sense

Anti-theft devices are great but use these low-cost common sense tips, too.

  1. Remove Ignition Keys 
    • If removed from the ignition after every use, ordinary ignition keys can significantly reduce the likelihood of theft.
  2. Lock Doors and Close Windows 
    • Locked doors and closed windows effectively limit access to the vehicle’s interior.
  3. Park in a Well-Lit Area 
    • Parking under street or parking lot lights discourages thieves from approaching a vehicle because of the risk of visibility.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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