How to Prevent Car Theft

by heather

car theftSo now that I’m living in downtown Detroit, I have an issue I’m facing for the first time in my life. Car theft.

I moved into a new building just this week, and two different neighbors came out and warned me, within minutes of me moving in, that there were a lot of car thefts in the neighborhood. In fact, my next door neighbor had hers stolen twice.

It’s a great neighborhood, they both said. But your car is at serious risk.

Yeah. Yikes.

Most experts say that due to the economy, car thefts have been steadily going up, even in relatively “safe” neighborhoods. And around the holidays, car thefts go up even more.

I’ve been researching ways to protect my own car, and thought it would make a timely post for all of you as well!

So, what can you do to protect your car during the holidays (and the rest of the year)?

1. Buy A Club

If there’s any theft deterrent that truly works, I’d put my money on The Club. Why? Because since I’ve moved to Detroit, I’ve seen more cars protected with The Club than anything else. If so many people use it here, it must work, right?

I got a Club for my own car, and have to say it’s working pretty great so far (after all, my car’s still here!). It’s very easy to use, and it’s giving me peace of mind, especially at night (when most car thefts happen).

The Club is a reinforced steel bar that works by locking down your steering wheel. If someone does manage to get into your car, they’re not going to be able to turn the wheel because The Club will either hit the door or the seat. So, they’re stuck, and that’s something that car thieves don’t want to deal with.

The Club sell for $43 at Amazon, and to me it’s been worth every penny.

2. Lock Your Car

Seems an obvious point, right? Well, authorities say that many thefts take place simply because the car was unlocked to begin with. Thieves are opportunists, and an unlocked car is an open door for them to walk through.

Even if you live in a small town or a “safe” suburb, always lock your car.

3. Don’t Leave Valuables In Your Car

This is a lesson I’ve taken to heart since I moved to Detroit. If there’s anything desirable in your car, you stand a good chance of getting your window bashed in so a thief can grab it.

Never leave valuable items in your car, especially during the holidays. This includes a GPS, DVD player, backpacks, cash, holiday gifts, iPods, cell phones, even cds. The less temptation you offer thieves, the lower your chance of being a victim.

4. Park In a Well-Lighted Place

Thieves need cover and darkness to break into your car without being seen. If you have to park in a parking lot, park by the lamp post or in full view of parking lot security cameras.

5. Don’t Leave Your Car Running

Want to know where a majority of cars are stolen?

Driveways and day care centers. Surprising, right?

It’s because these two places are where we often start the car, and leave it running unattended. All a thief has to do is open the door!

Never leave your car running unattended, even if you’re in a safe place. You never know when a thief can strike.

6. Keep Your Windows Up

A thin arm or a wire hanger is all a thief needs to get into your car if the window is cracked. Close them fully before you turn your car off, even in the summer.

7. Fake It

If you can’t afford OnStar or LoJack for your car, then find a decal you can put on the windows to let thieves know the car is protected with this technology. Yeah, it’s fake. But how will they know?

Last Word…

Do any of you have tips to lesson your risk of car theft? Or, have you ever had your own car stolen? Did you get it back? I’d love to hear your stories and tips, so please send them in!

<small>(Photo Credit: ell brown)<small>

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

heidi December 1, 2010 at 11:08 am

Great to have you back posting again, Heather! The most frustrating thing for me is having *everything visible* because my Cherokee has no tinted windows, no out-of-sight storage, and I always have a lot of stuff (work related) with me. A medium-sized, beat up, nasty looking styrofoam cooler in the far back of the jeep does hide anything I can’t otherwise conceal (binoculars, for example) and I keep jumper cables/bungee cords/flash lights and other such road-safety necessities under the back seat. It’s a bit annoying, but it all works out. I’d love a bit less exposure, but the options are pretty limited.

heather December 1, 2010 at 11:11 am

@Heidi, Yeah, it’s been off and on lately because I’ve been so busy! But thanks for the welcome back. 🙂

I love your styrofoam cooler idea; genius! I’ll def. keep that one in mind if I have to store something in there.

Wow, today’s ReCaptcha is “ecutive butfuns”. They’re so funny sometimes! 🙂

c. December 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I used to live in socal. We’d pop the wires or cap loose when the car was going to sit for a bit. Really hard to drive it away when the mechanical bits under the hood aren’t connected. Thieves will move on when it doesn’t start the first try. 😀

Eric December 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I used to live in Fort Lauderdale FL (downtown)….same thing. I think the BIGGEST thing is not to leave ANYTHING in sight. Don’t leave anything on the floor of the car and cover it with a towel or blanket. You are correct, always lock it and a club is a good deterrant as the wheel cannot be moved beyond a point. Lastly, if your car is stolen, try to have a bit of compassion – you never know what motivates people…they perhaps need it or what is in it more than you do. The universe provides to all – in her own way.

ph December 4, 2010 at 6:05 am

Notes:
1) The steering wheel lock depicted in your post is easily defeated by cutting the soft steering wheel with a pair of bolt cutters or gardening loppers. A better method is to augment it with a shield-like device that covers the entire the wheel: http://www.amazon.com/Club-SHL-704-Shield/dp/B000AMOENW/ref=pd_sbs_auto_26

2) I also installed a hidden engine kill switch and posted a note on the steering wheel: “Engine kill switch engaged / Car will not start”.

Corina December 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Great strategies to prevent car theft. I’ve been lucky not to experience that. I guess it depends more on where abouts you live.

ReloMary December 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm

You might want to keep my info handy!! I’ll find you a safer neighborhood.

I just blogged on your dryer sheets – am enjoying your posts. Keep up the good work – and do keep The Club working for you!

JackTRabbit July 22, 2011 at 12:00 am

I have used the Club religously for 4 years since the last time my 4runner was stolen – even for a couple of minutes in the store, I never left it for a moment without it. It only took a power saw in my driveway in the middle of night to cut the steering wheel & drive away with my beloved 4runner which I bought new in 1986 – 24 years and some ass took it from me in a couple minutes. If they’re just after a ride, they’ll pass yours by, but if they want your car it will be gone – club or no club. False security….

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