Tips on reducing vehicle theft and thefts from your vehicle

Follow these tips to reduce your chances of being the victim of auto theft.

1. Always lock your car. Approximately 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.

2. Always take your keys. Never leave them in the car. Nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.

3. Never hide a second set of keys in your car. Extra keys can easily be found if a car thief takes time to look.

4. Park in well-lit areas. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.

5. Park in attended lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.

6. If you park in an attended lot, leave only the ignition/door key. If your trunk and glove box use the same key as the door, have one of them changed. Don’t give the attendant easy access to your glove box and trunk. It may be inconvenient, but check the tires, spare and battery to insure they are the same as those you had when you parked.

7. Never leave your car running, even if you will only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up.

8. Completely close your car windows when parking. Don’t make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.

9. Don’t leave valuables in plain view. Don’t make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.

10. Park with your wheels turned towards the curb. Make your car tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.

11. If your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, back into your driveway. Front-wheel drive vehicles should be parked front end first. On four-wheel drive vehicles the rear wheels sometimes lock, making them difficult to tow.

12. Always use your emergency brake when parking. In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your car harder to tow.

13. If you have a garage, take the time to use it rather than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.

14. When parking in a garage, lock the garage door and your vehicle. By locking both the garage and vehicle doors, the chances of deterring a thief greatly improve.

15. Don’t leave the registration in your car. A car thief will use this to sell your stolen car. Either file the registration at your home or office, and carry a photocopy or carry the registration in your purse or wallet.

16. Disable your vehicle when leaving it unattended for an extended period. Remove the electronic ignition fuse, coil wire, rotor distributor, or otherwise disable your vehicle anytime thieves may have extended access to it.

17. Replace “T” shaped door locks with straight locks. Some vehicle doors have lock assemblies at window level that flare out in a knob or “T” shape. A thief can use various tools to gain access inside the vehicle, grab and pull the lock. Straight locks prevent this.

18. Vehicle identification number (VIN). Stolen cars/parts are more easily traced when vehicle VIN numbers have been etched on car windows and major parts. ID stickers include VINs and can assist police in identifying your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.

19. Engrave expensive accessories. Engrave personal ID numbers on car stereos, cellular phones, etc., so the thief will have difficulty disposing of them.

20. Drop business cards, address labels, or other ID inside vehicle doors. Car thieves usually alter vehicle identification numbers. By marking your vehicle a much as possible, you assist police in identifying your car.

21. Splice an inexpensive toggle switch into your ignition wire or to your starter. The trick is hiding the switch well. Keypads, pressure pads and more expensive “immobilizes” and “passkeys” can also be used.

22. Install a fuel kill switch.

23. Use a visible steering wheel lock which both prevents the steering wheel from being turned and discourages would-be thieves.

24. Install floorboard locks—devices that disable the gas or brake pedal.

25. Use a gearshift lock. It disables shifting of the transmission.

26. Tire/wheel locks prevent the vehicle from moving.

27. Hood locks prevents the thief from gaining access to your security system and battery.

28. Installing an armored collar around the steering column protects the column and ignition.

29. Use an alarm. Loud warnings sound when doors/hood/trunk are opened. Optional sensors include glass breakage, motion, tampering and towing. Panic buttons, back-up batteries, flashing parking lights or headlights, and automatic engine disable features are also recommended.

30. Use a vehicle tracking device. A transmitter hidden in your car enables police to track car.

31. Use special license plate locking screws to make it hard for thieves to remove your license plate.