Albuquerque often tops national lists of cities where most car thefts happen. Understandably, many car owners want to avoid discovering that their car is not where they left it. There are a lot of options for aftermarket anti-theft systems. Knowing how they work and what they cost can help you pick the best one for your vehicle.
Types of Anti-Theft Systems
Anti-theft systems may work by:
- Deterring break-ins
Some anti-theft systems are designed to discourage thieves from targeting your car for theft. Car alarms are the most common system that uses this strategy, but other devices, like steering wheel locks that are visible through the windows, may also serve the same purpose.
- Preventing ignition/mobility
You may physically or electronically immobilize your vehicle, making it impossible (or at least extremely difficult) for thieves to take your car. Immobilizing anti-theft systems include:
- Steering wheel lock (like The Club)
- Tire lock
- Kill switch
Some immobilizing anti-theft systems must be deactivated every time you get in your car. Others may be linked to your key fob or other electronic transmitter that automatically recognizes the authorized user (i.e. the driver with the right keys).
- Safeguarding mechanical systems
Because what your car has under the hood may be more valuable than a mode of transportation to some thieves, there are anti-theft systems intended to block access to mechanical components. Hood locks, for instance, require a key to pop the hood, keeping your engine and other chop shop targets safely covered.
- Locating your vehicle
Thieves do not want to be found, so anti-theft systems that allow you (and law enforcement) to find your vehicle make your car an unattractive target. Popular tracking systems include LoJack and other systems (like Verizon’s hum) that plug into your car’s OBD reader.
Considerations for Choosing an Anti-Theft System
There are two major considerations for choosing an anti-theft system:
- What type of theft are you most trying to prevent?
If you depend on your vehicle for work and home life (as most of us do), you want to prevent your car from moving anywhere without your knowledge. So, the ideal anti-theft system will deter thieves from targeting your car at all or will immobilize your car if an unauthorized user gains entry. That makes deterrents and immobilizing systems your top choices.
If you have invested a lot in aftermarket upgrades and customizations, you will likely want to add a layer of protection on top of your mechanical components. That makes a hood key essential.
- What is your budget?
As you know, the simple desire to prevent car theft does not always provide the budget to do so. For those looking for an economical anti-theft system, physical immobilizers—steering wheel and tire locks—are likely the least expensive. For mid-budget range, you may be able to get a decent electronic locking system. Do be aware, however, kill switches typically need to be deactivated before each drive. If that introduces a hassle you cannot tolerate on a daily basis, then an RFID system may be better suited for you.
Owners of newer cars or cars that tend to be stolen more than others may want to invest in multiple systems, including a locating system that makes recovery more likely (and hopefully likely before components have been removed).