Car Security: Some Do's and Don'ts.
Adopting the following Do's and Don'ts may reduce the chance of your car being a victim of crime. Some of the following recommendations will give you an insight into the mind of the car thief and how they steal cars. This should help you to learn how you may to stop them. There is nothing listed here that car thieves don't already know but knowing the tricks car thieves use should motivate you to take the precautions necessary to defend your vehicle. Car theft is usually a crime of opportunity. The best protection you can give your car is to take a proactive multi layered approach to security. A car with a visible device and one without, which is more likely to be stolen? Ultimately it's your responsibility.
- Do lock your car and close all windows and never leave your keys in the ignition or your car running unattended for a second. It sounds obvious but it isn't. . Car theft is a crime of opportunity and thieves are just waiting for you when you are off paying for petrol, running a quick errand, hitting the ATM or dropping off a video or the kids. People often leave their cars unlocked when they're at a quiet, peaceful and seemingly safe location. Thieves know this and will strike. Don't make it easy for thieves to grab your car or its contents.
- Do be aware that thieves are always on the look out for people placing valuables in the glove box or boot. Be careful where and how you secure your valuables.
- Do park your car off the street, preferably on your property or at a secure car park. Almost 50% of vehicles are stolen from the street. Do use your good judgement and try to park you car in a high foot traffic area with good security. Try to park in a well lit area at night as thieves often target cars at night.
- Do use an attended, patrolled or monitored car park. It is worthwhile to pay the extra couple of dollars for the added security rather than using the free parking or the less-trafficked side streets. However be aware, thieves often stake out sporting events, movie theatres, airports, fishing spots and shopping centre car parks where they know you may be gone for a while. Large car parks are popular with thieves because they offer the largest selection of cars where they may find their car of choice. Whenever possible try to park near the entrance, where there is the most foot traffic for any potential witnesses and the most lighting.
- Do use layered security. Layered security is when you use multiple strategies to protect your car. The more anti theft strategies you use the less likely that your car will be stolen or broken it to. The first layer is your proactive preventative common sense, the second some highly visible security device like the Cop-Lock and the third layer an electronic car alarm with an engine immobiliser, ignition shield or battery isolator. Police Forces, Insurance Companies, Transport Authorities and Motoring Organisations worldwide all advocate layered protection. Layered security really works.
- Do use a hood lock cable (standard on most cars) so that thieves can't get to your car alarm mechanism or battery.
- Do use visible deterrence. Use of a highly visible anti theft device such as a steering wheel lock, brake or clutch immobiliser, gear shift lock or steering column collar do reduce car theft. These devices can encourage a thief to go to the next car and could prevent a car break in which results in theft of contents and/or costly vehicle damage.
- Do use an electronic devise that stops the ability of the car to be driven such as an immobiliser which cuts off the ignition starter and the fuel system. Use an alarm system which activates the headlights, a siren and horn and attracts attention to any theft in progress. These devices are especially important if you drive an older model car. Installation of a car alarm may enable you to receive a cheaper premium from your insurer. Sophisticated electronic tracking devices are recommended for high value vehicles.
- Do use an alarm that has a pager to notify you as soon as your alarm is activated instead of a motion-sensitive car alarm. Thieves often bump against the car to check for a car alarm. Because of false alarms people have become conditioned and tune them out. Treat any alarm seriously.
- Do drop your business card into the doors through the window slots to identify your car as yours. However, unfortunately VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) etching the major parts of your vehicle doesn't turn most opportunistic thieves off.
- Don't be an attractive theft target. It is just too quick and easy for a car thief to just break the window or jimmy the lock to gain entry into a locked car if there are valuables worth stealing. Keep any valuables and items like a handbag, wallet, purse or briefcase well out of sight of passers-by. Don't forget to hide popular theft items like your mobile phone, iPod, laptop or any other gadgetry you may have in your car. Among the favourite items on the black market right now are GPS units. If you have one, conceal it and its mounting stand. Leaving the cradle or a suction mark on the window on view is an invitation for a thief to break in and search your car.
- Don't park where you do not personally feel safe and secure. Trust your hunches.
- Don't hide a second set of keys anywhere in the car or use a magnet under the mudguards or body. Thieves know where to look for keys.
- Don't leave credit cards, registration papers, insurance documents, a driver's license or other personal items in an unattended car. These items could give thieves your details for identity fraud. It is also just too easy for thieves to sell your car or visit your home if there is anything with your address and details on it.
- Don't have your personal details or address on any tags attached to your car keys.
- Don't leave any exposed wiring or have the central unit of the car alarm fitted where it can be easily deactivate. Use a professional car alarm installer who knows what it takes to make your car elusive to thieves.
- Don't use stickers that indicated the type of car alarm installed. Thieves use these to figure out which method to use to avoid the alarm. Don't display stickers that advertise what sort of valuable equipment or audio system you have in the car. You are just asking for trouble.
- Don't buy cars that are top of the car theft hit list.
- Don't be complacent and think that it will never happen to you, that no-one would want to steal your old bomb or that I'm insured so it doesn't matter. It can and will happen if you do not take precautions particularly on older cars that thieves know are easier to steal.
- Don't under insure your car and property. It's your last line of protection against theft.