Theft Prevention Strategies to Keep Your Car Safe

Car Theft Prevention

You just returned home with the keys to your new ride, and it’s parked right in the driveway, shining like a star.

You might click the lock button on your keys and assume it’s safe, but did you know that in the United States, a vehicle is stolen every 21 seconds?

Prying eyes could be peering at your car, and it’s up to you to stop them from taking action. Fortunately, we have a list of theft prevention strategies and techniques for you to use right now.

How to Prevent Car Theft

Preventing car theft isn’t the result of one, big action. Instead, it’s a process involving a variety of different techniques. Here’s a closer look:

1. Cover Your Car

Purchasing a car tarp might be the best investment you make into car safety. As a one-time expense, it keeps prying eyes off of your vehicle. It’s the whole mantra of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Some covered cars will draw attention because — let’s be honest — nobody puts a cover on their 1997 Toyota Camry with the cracked hubcaps. In addition to covering it, park your car on the side of your home where its placement won’t draw attention either.

2. Park in Your Garage

If thieves can’t access your car, they can’t steal it. Simple enough. Parking your car in a locked garage not only keeps it under lock and key, but it removes temptation. It’s not on display for the entire neighborhood to see, so you can’t be “cased” by potential car thieves.

Professional car thieves take their time planning who to steal from; they’ll opt for the easiest targets to reduce their risk of getting caught. If you leave your garage door open for hours throughout the day with your car parked inside, it tells them that you don’t take security seriously.

Park your car in the garage, close the door, and lock it right away. If, by any chance, a car thief is lurking nearby, they’ll get the message loud and clear.

3. Never Leave a Running Car Unattended

You just ran into the store to get a pack of cigarettes and a Red Bull, but when you come outside, there’s an empty spot in the parking lot. You’re opening up an invitation to car thieves if you leave it running and unattended for any length of time.

Is this a likely scenario? No. Does it happen? It absolutely does. It’s better to shut your car off, close the window, and lock the door even if you’re just leaving it unattended for a quick minute or two.

4. Install an Upgraded Anti-Theft System

Many modern cars come with some form of an anti-theft system installed, but half the time, these are very basic, and professional car thieves are privy to how they work (and how to disable them).

You can explore one of three majorly effective ways to disrupt car thieves with these anti-theft systems:

  • Cross-bar, or a steering wheel lock—whatever you want to call it—is a bar that stretches across your steering wheel and locks into place, preventing the wheel from moving. Also consider using wheel locks if you car doesn’t already have them.
  • Lojack anti-theft systems will emit a signal to police that can be tracked through an APB, allowing police to cut-off the thief and retrieve your vehicle.
  • Passive alarm systems can be installed later but are usually included in higher-end vehicles. These activate when you take the key out of the ignition.

5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings (Where You Park)

This is a two-part tip. One: don’t park in compact environments where you can’t see all of your surroundings, like parking garages, tight-knit gas stations, and places like that. Two: don’t park your car in a high-crime area, especially if you have a more expensive vehicle.

Go back to our fourth tip and bring a cross-bar along with you if you have to park in a high crime neighborhood for any reason. This is an immediate deterrent to lower forms of car theft. In these areas, you should also park with your wheels turned to the side to make it difficult for car thieves that use tow trucks to simply pluck your vehicle off the street.

6. Keep it Bright

Car thieves love to work in the dark. It’s easier to remain concealed and harder for you to identify them. Motion-activated home lights deter burglars, so why wouldn’t it work on car thieves? To keep your car visible, try:

  • Outdoor Solar Lights: These peg-style lights can line a walkway, or they can illuminate your driveway. Outdoor solar lights aren’t like they used to be: they’re actually quite powerful now. This keeps your car safe from thieves and gives you a safe, clear path to get in and out of your home in the dark.
  • Motion-Activated Driveway Lights: Yes, some raccoons are going to set these off from time to time, but it alerts you and deters burglars at the same time. They don’t want to be visible for any reason.
  • Parking Under a Street Light: If you don’t have home lighting that you can use, utilize what the city offers. Park right under a street light in front of your home or any well-lit area near your home.

Keep the area that you park your car well-lit at all times. Thieves work at night; take away their cover.

7. Keep it Locked

This is a simple reminder: lock your car even when you don’t want to. It’s easy to say, “I’m just running in the house for ten minutes and coming back out,” but a professional car thief doesn’t need half that time to get your car out of the driveway.

Don’t just run in for your phone. Lock it up like someone who has an interest in stealing it.

Equipped to Protect Your Car

You know the strategies, you know the dangers, and now you know what you’re doing. The more attractive your car is to you, the more attractive it is to thieves.

Car thieves will break a window, tow your car, or simply take your less-expensive car because it’s easy pickings. Get in the habit of practicing these tips and tricks, and you’ll run a much lower risk of having your car stolen.

Brett Gordon

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.