Preventing Car Theft

by Paul Konrardy

Follow these tips to protect it from car thieves.

The Car

The Numbers

  1. Make a note of your license plate number. The longer it takes you to find your license plate number to provide it to the police, the farther away your car gets.
  2. Know your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It’s usually on the dashboard near the steering wheel and also on the engine.
  3. Put both numbers in your phone and/or and in a safe place at home.

The Description

  1. Know the year, make, model, and color of your car. Is it a two-door or four-door? Hardtop or convertible?
  2. What about unique after-market items: custom tires/wheels, add-ons, security system or stereo? Keep the receipts and serial numbers for these items with your insurance information.
  3. Photograph your car — inside and out — including the trunk if you have items you store in it. These can help support your insurance claim if the car is stolen.

The Insurance

WHN TIP – Ask for Info: Visit your insurance company’s website or contact your insurance agent for additional information.

  1. Keep a copy of your insurance policy in a safe, protected place in your wallet or purse, as well as at your office and at home.
  2. Most policies also provide a wallet card with information about policy and the number to call in case of an accident.

WHN TIP: Riders: Check with your insurance company if you travel with a laptop or mobile devices, expensive cameras or other highly prized items. You may want to take out a “floater” or “rider” policy to cover these items when they are taken out of your home or office.

The Deterrents

  1. While thieves are always on the hunt for “free wheels,” there are steps you can take to make it harder for your car to disappear.

WHN TIP – Car Registration: You may be provided with two copies: one with your home address and one without. Keep the latter in your glove compartment. Remember, in many states, you must provide your registration when stopped by an officer: it is the law.

  1. Don’t leave your keys in the car EVER. Always take them with you.
  2. Close car windows.
  3. Lock car doors.
  4. Close the roof on a convertible.
  5. Don’t leave your valuable or interesting possessions in clear sight. This includes shopping bags, cell phones, purses and cash.
  6. Don’t forget about everyday items: baby seats, toys, pet items or racks for bike/skis/surfboard.
  7. Keeping change for parking and tolls in easy reach? Keep the dollar value relatively small, especially if you routinely valet your vehicle.
  8. Don’t hide spare keys in or on your car; thieves know where most people hide keys on cars.

WHN TIP – Spare Key? Sometimes a manufacturer might place a spare key inside the car’s manual, which is often kept in the glove compartment. Be sure to remove this key – thieves will know about this option for certain cars.

WHN TIP – Think Empty: Don’t leave purses, wallets, bags, etc. in the car even if they’re empty. It may cost you a broken window for the thief to find that out.

More Tips

  1. Have a garage? Park the car in it; remove valuable items, lock the car. Then lock the garage and entry doors. Don’t leave your car keys in the garage.
  2. Street parking? Park in a well-lit area and turn your wheels toward the curb. Remove valuable items, lock the car.
  3. Lot parking? Find a lot with an attendant. Remove valuable items, lock the car, leaving only the ignition key with the attendant.
  4. No parking lot attendant? Park near stairs, an elevator or a well-lit area – any high traffic area. Remove valuable items, lock the car.
  5. Valet? Leave only the ignition key with the attendant.
  6. Drop a business card, address card or another ID form into the pockets of your car doors so police can identify your car. Don’t leave your car running while you run into a store to pick something up, no matter how quick the errand or how cold the day.
  7. Check the back seat before entering your vehicle and lock all doors immediately after entering it.
  8. Keep your garage door opener with you. If your vehicle is stolen thieves can not enter your home.
  9. Always be suspicious of anyone approaching your vehicle.
  10. Never go home if you suspect you are being followed. Go to the police station or a well-populated area and draw attention by honking the horn.
  11. Read 14 Theft Prevention Tips to learn more.

Need more? Contact your local police department (call the non-emergency number: you can usually find this in the phone book) and ask about car theft in your area, how often it happens and what you can do to protect yourself.

Thank You …

A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.

Photo Credit: Sergey Mironov

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