While there are steps that everyone can take to deter car thieves, there is no foolproof way to protect a car from a really determined professional thief. Many people with older cars become complacent believing that thieves will not take their car since they target newer models. The truth is the most popular targets for car thieves are older cars, especially Hondas and Toyotas, which can be easily sold for parts.
Never Leave Keys in the Car
Even if you are just running into the daycare to drop off a child or popping into a convenience store to pay for gas, do not leave keys in the ignition or leave the car running. Car theft is a crime of opportunity and leaving keys in a car is an invitation. When a car is being left unattended always lock it and take the keys. Never hide an extra set of keys in the car because car thieves know all the hiding spots and will find them.
Do Not Trust In Audible Alarms
Car thieves often bump into cars to see if they have motion sensitive auto alarms. Audible alarms go off so often that most people pay no attention to them and they present very little deterrent to thieves. A better option is an alarm with a pager that is carried with you. If someone tries to break into the car, the pager alerts the owner so he or she can take appropriate action. Do not use decals with the alarm company name since knowing the type of alarm makes it easier to disable.
Cover the Dashboard VIN
The VIN (vehicle identification number) is all a thief needs to get a duplicate key for your car from the parts department of a dealership. Dealerships do not require proof of car ownership when they sell duplicate keys. On most car models the VIN is on the left side of the dashboard and is easily visible through the windshield. Cover the VIN with a piece of opaque tape to prevent thieves from copying the number.
Do Not Leave Keys Unattended
Many cars have electronic starters or pagers on the keys to enable owners to find their cars easily. These devices also help car thieves locate cars easily. Keys should not be left in unattended coat pockets or purses where thieves can find them. Always keep car keys with you. Use caution when handing keys over to a valet because some car thieves pose as valets at popular restuarants and clubs that do not offer valet parking service.
Carjacking is a violent crime that falls under federal jurisdiction in the U.S. The best way to avoid being carjacked is to keep windows up and doors locked while driving. Park in well lit areas close to heavy foot traffic because drivers are most vulnerable to carjackers when entering or exiting the car. If threatened by car thieves, give them the keys and let them have the car since no car is as valuable as your life.
Car thieves choose the easiest target and taking simple precautions will encourage thieves to choose a car that is less trouble to steal. The most popular method of car theft is to take a car with the keys in the ignition. Whenever possible, thieves prefer to use keys because it is simpler and carries less risk of being caught. Protecting your keys helps to protect your car from theft.