Use car alarms. If your car comes with a car alarm or anti-theft warning system, make sure you use it. Don’t disable it or ignore it if it goes off. If your car doesn’t have one, buy a car alarm. They aren’t that expensive and can deter the casual car thief. While some people recommend putting a car alarm sticker on your car (even if you don’t have a car alarm) to keep away would-be thieves, a better strategy is to actually have one on your car – and use it.
Use layered protection. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends the use of layered protection as an additional line of defense against car thieves. Layered protection simply refers to the use of multiple precautions and deterrents, including the use of anti-theft devices. NICB identifies three types of devices on its website (and if you purchase using NICB promotional discount codes, a portion of the sale of each item is donated to NICB to support its efforts to fight insurance-related crime and vehicle theft).
- Warning device – The Club, or steering wheel lock, is the number one best-selling mechanical anti-theft device in North America and has been effective in thwarting car theft for more than 24 years. If a thief can’t steer the car, it’s less likely to be stolen.
- Immobilizing device – The Ravelco Anti Theft Device makes it impossible for thieves to start and drive the car away when the small, 16-pin male Ravelco plug is removed. In essence, when you remove the plug, it’s like taking a part of the engine with you. The thieves can’t start the car – even if they have the ignition key.
- Tracking device – Sometimes you can’t stop your car from being stolen, but if you use a tracking device, you’re more likely to get your car back. LoJack is the company that invented stolen vehicle recovery technology. The LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system is the only one directly integrated with the police. Using radio frequency technology, LoJack can track vehicles hidden almost anywhere – in steel buildings or containers, concrete tunnels or garages, in dense foliage, and chop shops.
Another stolen vehicle tracking system that is available with General Motors vehicles through annual subscription is OnStar.
It doesn’t matter which of the layered anti-theft devices you use, as long as you use them.
Watch out for these most-stolen vehicles
Not every vehicle that gets stolen is an expensive sports car. Sure, Porsches and high-end Mercedes-Benz vehicles are stolen, but the most-stolen vehicles are more modestly-priced used vehicles, basically family cars and trucks. Why? The cars are stolen and taken to chop shops. They’re worth more for the parts than the vehicle itself.
The NICB publishes an annual list of the most-stolen vehicles in the U.S. each September. The top 10 most-stolen vehicles for 2009 (data published in September 2010) are:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1985 Honda Civic
3. 1991 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full-size)
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10. 2009 Toyota Corolla
If you’re considering buying a used car, make use of the free VINCheck vehicle history service offered by the NICB. The service will help you determine if the vehicle you’re considering buying has been stolen but not reported recovered, or reported as a salvage vehicle.
Bottom line: Be smart, be proactive, and protect your car from thieves – who are always on the lookout for easy pickings.