About 1.2 million cars are stolen every year in the U.S. That's one every 26 seconds! And thieves are always on the lookout for an easy target.
So, what are some simple things you can do to help prevent your car from becoming another statistic?
- Always lock the doors.
- Never leave your vehicle while the engine is running. It doesn't save you much time, and it's an open invitation for thieves to steal your car.
- Take your keys with you. Even a spare key hidden out of sight is a bad idea. The bad guys know all the hiding places.
- Roll up your windows all the way. It's amazing what an experienced car thief can do with a sliver of an opening.
- Secure your garage. If you park in a garage at home, make sure it's locked down. And never leave your keys in the car.
- Hide valuables. Keep your personal belongings out of sight, preferably in the trunk.
- Install an anti-theft device. If you don't already have one, a simple alarm can make a difference. Thieves are likelier to skip the car if they see an additional layer of protection.
- Consider a vehicle recovery system. If your car is stolen, it can be tracked and recovered using GPS, transmitter or similar technology.
- Get the VIN etched onto doors or windows. Professional thieves know they'd have to remove the etchings to resell the vehicle.
- Park in populated areas. You'll be safer getting in and out, and thieves are less likely to disturb cars parked on busy, well-lit streets.
- Park smart. When parking on the street, turn the wheels to the curb and set the emergency brake. When parking a front-wheel drive vehicle in the driveway or parking lot, pull in forward and set the emergency brake. If rear-wheel drive, back in and set the emergency brake.
When buying a new vehicle
- Find out which cars are stolen the most. Some vehicles are bigger targets than others.
- Consider paying a little more for an alarm. It costs more upfront, but it might save you money on car insurance and could make the difference whether your car is stolen or not.
- Research other anti-theft devices. Smart keys, electronic tracking devices, hood locks, visible steering wheel lock—there are plenty of options, some cheap and some more expensive.