A car is stolen every 36 seconds in the U.S.
According to NICB, the number of car thefts spiked to more than 800,000 in 2020. Three reasons for the increase in car theft year-on-year are the increasingly high prices of vehicles, new keyless start technology, and people leaving their cars unattended for longer than usual during the pandemic.
Besides keeping your vehicle locked at all times and ensuring you don’t leave your key fob in your car, there are three other ways to avoid becoming a victim of car theft.
Install an Anti-Theft Device and an Audible Alarm System
If your car didn’t come with an audible alarm system, you should install one.
Audible alarm systems are designed to make a loud noise and attract attention if someone tries to get into your vehicle while the alarm is armed. As a bonus, having an extra anti-theft feature is also a way to get the lowest premiums when you shop car insurance.
According to NHTSA, having an alarm system that attracts unwanted attention is often a huge deterrent to potential thieves. Although there are many alarm systems available, you may need a technician to install one for you.
Visible anti-theft devices such as gear or steering wheel locks may also make a car thief think twice about targeting your vehicle because there is a chance they may attract attention and get caught.
Close the Windows and Don’t Leave Valuables in Your Car
If you’re not driving, the NICB recommends keeping your windows closed at all times. For opportunistic car thieves, leaving your windows even slightly open is a golden opportunity to reach inside your car and steal your valuables – or worse, unlock your vehicle to gain full access.
In addition to keeping your windows closed, you should never leave valuables in your car where others can see them – or even better, don’t leave valuables in your vehicle at all. If you absolutely must have your valuables with you in the car, keep them out of sight.
It’s also a good idea to put your valuables like your laptop and purse in your trunk before you leave home – thieves will often scope out people pulling into parking lots and target the people they have seen move valuables into their trunk.
Only Park in Secure Areas
When you park your car, do so only in well-lit areas – especially at night. Avoid parking beside larger vehicles, bushes, and trees because they may offer more privacy for the thief breaking into your car.
Most public parking lots have security cameras, so try to park within their view as an extra deterrent. Avoid parking in dark, isolated areas and avoid known crime hot spots or ‘bad’ areas.
Whenever you park your car – whether it’s in your driveway or a public place – you should be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. If you see suspicious activity or someone loitering in the parking lot, try to park elsewhere.
If you have to leave your car unattended at the airport, you can read more car safety tips here.
What to Do If Someone Steals Your Car
If your car does get stolen, you should alert the police immediately. You’ll need to provide information such as the make, year, and model of your vehicle, your license plate number, and your car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to the police.
Once you have notified the police about your stolen car, contact your insurance provider as soon as you can – usually, you will have to report the theft within 24 hours.