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Summer's Here, Almost--So Car-Related Crime Is Up


Car thief breaking into car. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Tracking.

Car thief breaking into car. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Tracking.

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You may find this obvious, but many people don’t: summer means more people spending time outdoors, and more people often translates into more crime.

Temperatures aren’t the only thing rising in summer, since car related burglary and vandalism rates also go up during summer months (even if car theft rates are down).  Most are crimes of opportunity, but even those careful about where they park or what they keep in their car can return to keyed doors, slashed tires or sprayed graffiti.

There’s no way to guarantee that you won’t be a victim, but here are some tips to reduce your chances of having to file an insurance claim: 

Don’t leave valuables in your car. This may sound obvious, but take a look at cars parked around you. GPS units and radar detectors are everywhere, since people usually can’t be bothered to take electronics with them. Even if you’ll only be gone for a few minutes, put your electronics out of sight. Cover up 12v plugs, too, since an open power outlet tells a thief that there may be something worth stealing in the glove box or under the seat.

Park in well-lit areas, or better yet, park in view of a security camera. Security cameras are everywhere these days – just look for the smoked bubble atop a pole, and chances are that it’s a security camera. There’s no guarantee that parking in plain view of a security cam will keep your car safe, but savvy thieves know to avoid being caught on video.

Lock your doors. Another obvious tip, but you’d be amazed at how many people overlook it. The exception to this rule may be soft-top convertible drivers; leaving your door unlocked may prevent a thief from slashing your vinyl or cloth top to gain access to your car.

If possible, don’t park on the street. Cars in driveways or parking garages are less likely to fall victim to vandals and opportunistic thieves. If you’re parking in your own driveway, use a motion-sensor-activated light to deter thieves.

Don’t put a lot of faith in car alarms. When was the last time you reacted to a car alarm in your neighborhood? Blaring car alarms have become so commonplace that most of us just tune them out, and I doubt many police departments have the manpower needed to respond to minor property crimes.

Think like a thief. Are you on a cross country road trip? Playing tourist along the way? What are the chances that you’ll bring your laptop into that water park or museum, or out on the beach with you? Not real good, and any thief worthy of his profession knows it.  If you can’t securely lock up your valuables, at least make sure they’re all out of sight.

Drive something demure. Finally, what you drive makes a difference on how likely it is to be damaged or broken into. A new BMW may impress the neighbors, but it also impresses thieves and tells vandals that you’ve got the money to pay your insurance deductible. Keep that in mind when shopping for your next new or used car.

[Washington Post]

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