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Car Theft Prevention Tips

by Main Street America Insurance,

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, over 930,000 vehicles were reported stolen in 2021. With reports continuing to rise across the United States, many people are left wondering what they can do to prevent car break ins.

From simple safety tips to devices you can use to boost your car’s security, we have a few car theft prevention tips that can help you avoid disaster.

Safety First

Our first tip may seem obvious, but it’s something that’s easy to forget when we get busy or distracted – safety first. Following these basic safety rules can help keep you out of sticky situations and prevent car break ins:

Lock your doors – whether you’re grabbing some milk or leaving your car overnight, ensuring your doors are always locked is important to protecting your assets. In most cases, thieves are looking for an easy target. When they check your doors and find them locked, they’re far more likely to walk away and find another, more vulnerable, vehicle.

Park in well-lit areas – if possible, pass up the sketchy, dark parking lot in favor of something well-lit and busy. Thieves don’t want to attract attention, so they’re less likely to take a chance on a car that’s parked in a “safe” area.

Be aware of your surroundings – knowing exactly who and what is around you is the best way to protect yourself and your property from people who mean harm. Always keep your eyes up and headphones out when parking or walking.

Ditch the Valuables

Aside from locking your doors, the best thing you can do to prevent car theft is take valuable items OUT of your car when you leave. There’s nothing more enticing to a thief than cash (yes, even change), electronics, boxes or bags left in plain sight.

Even worse than your wallet, research from Everytown shows firearms are stolen from vehicles every 15 minutes in the United States. Why risk it?

Watch Your Keys

While we’re talking about items that are commonly left behind in vehicles – don’t forget about your keys!

It can be tempting to leave your keys behind, especially if you know you’ll be right back, but it’s a risky choice. Even hotwiring a car only takes moments but imagine how quickly your vehicle can be stolen when you hand the thief your key ring.

You should also keep spare keys away from your car or common parking areas. Especially if you have a smart key, as it can pick up the signal and grant anyone nearby access to the car. Next time you’re looking for a spot to keep your spare, skip the garage and try the nightstand instead.

And finally, never leave your car running unattended. Some cars come with features like remote start that make it a little safer to warm up or cool down your car before you leave home but, at the end of the day, an empty, running car is still a prime target for thieves.

Beef Up Security

In most cases, newer car models come with advanced safety features like anti-theft alarms or apps that allow you to geo-fence and track the location of your vehicle. But, if those options aren’t standard with your vehicle, they’re worth investing in to help prevent car theft and give you peace of mind. You should periodically check with your local dealer or your car manufacturer’s website for new releases regarding recalls, software updates, or anti-theft devices that could be made available to you. Here are a few other security services and devices to consider:

Car Alarms

If your vehicle doesn’t come with an alarm, you can have one easily installed at your local mechanic. These devices typically connect to the car’s horn and emit a loud sound when someone tries to gain access to the vehicle, helping deter would-be thieves.

Wheel Locks

Today, you can buy a number of easy-to-install anti-theft devices that don’t affect your car’s wiring. For example, you can buy locks that attach to either the steering wheel or your tires to prevent thieves from being physically able to drive away in your car. At least not without a lot of time, noise and effort.

Tracking Devices & Services

If your vehicle doesn’t come with geo-fencing or tracking services, it can be a great investment to make. This could be anything from a GPS tracking system installed in the vehicle to an Air Tag you hide in the back seat. While tracking technology won’t stop someone from stealing your car, it will help the police find it quickly.

In some cases, you may need to invest in an anti-theft device for car insurance to cover your vehicle. It’s unfortunate, but with such a high risk many insurance carriers require an added level of security that some cars can’t offer.

What to Do If Your Car is Stolen

After your vehicle is stolen, the first step is calling the police. You’ll need to file a police report in order to initiate an investigation or search for your car, and insurance will require it in order to file and close out a claim.

Once you’re finished with the police, reach out to your auto insurance carrier or independent agent to see what coverage you have and begin the claims process. In most cases, if you have comprehensive coverage your insurance will help pay to repair or replace your vehicle after theft.

Additional coverages are available to get help with things like towing or roadside assistance and securing a rental car.

Here’s what you’ll want to have on hand through this process:

  • Your vehicle’s details (year, make model)
  • The VIN and license plate number
  • Proof of ownership and insurance for the vehicle

Not sure what auto insurance coverages you have in place? Talk to an independent agent to and find out.