The Easy Way to Keep Your Vehicle Safe From Theft

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Follow these suggestions to give your new car a fighting chance against thieves.

If you’re like most people, you probably diligently lock your car whenever you’re out on the town. But do you lock it when it’s in your own driveway? Simple actions like this—and more sophisticated techniques below—can help you hold on to your shiny new car for a long time to come.

Don’t Invite Crime
Car theft and vandalism are often crimes of convenience. In other words, a thief will go for the easy target. So don’t make your car his obvious choice. Roll up your windows, close your sunroof, turn off the ignition and take your keys with you whenever you get out of the vehicle—even to run inside and grab your lunch bag. Don’t leave your car running unless you’re in it. And whatever goes into your car with you should come out with you: purse, laptop, phone, music player, shopping bags, etc.

Park Smart
If your garage is full of holiday decorations and Aunt Floozy’s cast-offs, consider clearing out the flotsam and parking your car in this secure space. If you must park in a driveway or on the street—at home or away—find a well-lit area with plenty of other drivers and people passing by. If you can, fold in your side mirrors, retract your antenna and activate your alarm before you walk off. Look into locking wheel nuts if you’ve fitted your car with flashy rims, too.

Stay Alert
Whenever you approach your parked car, especially at night, have your keys in your hand. Look around the car as you approach it, especially if your car is between larger vehicles. Glance in the backseat before you get in, and lock the doors once you’re seated.

Invest in Technology
Anti-theft devices really do deter thieves. Mechanical immobilizers, such as “The Club” and similar devices, physically prevent someone from moving your car, and they can be quite effective. Installing a kill switch, or electronic immobilizer, requires you to insert or wave a small electronic passkey before you can start the engine—and they are very effective, if generally expensive.

Etching your VIN into your car’s major parts can deter a thief, since the resale market is not kind to identifiable parts. The same is true of GPS trackers that can be installed in your vehicle. In both of these cases, though, it’s best to use window stickers that warn potential thieves that the car is protected. Otherwise, the value of the protection only comes in recovering your car—not preventing its theft.