Auto theft is up this year in Forest Park Southeast based on crime data from the police department. Although the neighborhood has become one of the most walkable parts of the city, many residents do own cars and visitors to the neighborhood often drive here. No one wants their car stolen, and we would also like to see the rate of auto theft stop rising so quickly in the neighborhood. This post will discuss some simple ways to prevent your car from being stolen.
- Keep track of your keys!
- One of the first things police may ask when you report a stolen car is, “do you have all of your keys?” A somewhat common practice among car owners is to place a spare key under the wheel well or somewhere else on the car they think is “hidden.” Unfortunately, criminals have caught on to this practice and will often check for keys before breaking into a car they want to steal. Yes, it’s inconvenient to be locked out of your car, but you know what’s even more inconvenient? Having no car at all because someone found your “safe” key hiding spot. NEVER leave your spare key(s) where a criminal can access them easily.
- Secure your vehicle at all times
- This may seem like common sense, but a surprising number of car owners become comfortable with leaving their doors unlocked, windows down, etc., especially when parked near their home or even in their garage/carport. Even if you generally feel safe in your own neighborhood, an unlocked door or open window makes your car an easy target. Even if you’re just stepping away from your car for a few minutes, make sure all windows are up and the doors are locked.
- Park as smartly as possible
- If you have a garage or carport, park your car here when not in use. If you park on the street or in a parking lot, try to park in a well-lit area. Good lighting significantly deters criminal activity. If parking along Manchester, keep in mind that many businesses have their own security cameras and/or cameras federated through the Neighborhood Security Initiative’s camera network. Parking within view of these cameras may help deter car thieves, or if your car is stolen the criminal will at least be visible on camera.
- NEVER leave valuables in your car
- Always take phones, tablets, wallets, purses, backpacks, suitcases, or anything else of value out of your car when you get out. Even something as simple as loose change can be enough to encourage a criminal to target your car. Ideally, leave absolutely nothing in your car when you leave it, or keep your items in a locked trunk or locked glove box if you must leave them in your car.
- Use a physical anti-theft device
- This can be as simple as a steering wheel lock or more complicated like a kill switch or engine immobilizer. It’s really up to you, but anything that makes your car more difficult to steal will deter criminals. As is often said for bikes, your car doesn’t have to be the most difficult to steal, it just has to be more difficult than others around it in order to deter criminals. Additionally, your insurance company may offer a discount on your premium if you agree to use an anti-theft device. Click here to learn about the best types of anti-theft devices.
- NEVER leave your car running unattended
- Almost half of all auto thefts occur because the car owner failed to take reasonable basic precautions such as turning the car off when not in use (see also point #2). Sure, it may feel nicer on a cold winter morning or hot summer day to get into a car that’s already been heating up/cooling down, but this also opens a wide door for a potential thief. Not to mention that leaving your car running unattended is also illegal (you could be fined up to $100!), is a waste of gas ($$$), and creates unnecessary air pollution.
- Consider using a tech-based auto recovery tool
- Technology can pretty much do everything these days, and helping you find your stolen car is one of the many things included in this. There are several app-based car security systems that use GPS technology to track your car’s location. One great option* is CarLock ($58.95 on Amazon) which uses a GPS tracker placed in your car connected to a smartphone app. The app will monitor your car in real time and notify you automatically of suspicious behavior. If interested in a tech-based anti-theft solution, do some research online to find the best and most cost-efficient option for you.
These tips will significantly reduce your risk of having your car stolen, however it is important to remember that nothing will ever be 100% effective against auto theft. Even the most secure car can be stolen, it will just be more difficult to do so. If your car is stolen, you should immediately report it to the police. After contacting the police, also contact your insurance company to report your car as stolen.
If you happen to see someone breaking into your car (or someone else’s), do not attempt to intervene. The criminal could be armed and dangerous to your personal safety. Remember, your car is replaceable, but your life is not. The best thing to do in this situation is observe details about the criminal and the incident and report these to the police.
Do you have any other tips to prevent car theft not covered above? Let us know in the comments!
*We are not sponsored by CarLock nor do we endorse this specific product. It is merely used in this post as an example of an available product for tech-based car security. Please research the best option for you and your car before purchasing any security product.