When it comes to auto theft, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is much more energy- and cost-effective to equip your car with devices and get into the habits that deter car thieves than it is to file a police report, open a claim with your insurance carrier, hope that your car is found and returned (although there’s a good chance it won’t be), and if it is, shell out the cash to get it refitted with the parts that car thieves stripped.
So, for National Crime Prevention Month, we’re going to give you a few valuable tips.
Tip 1: Location, Location, Location
Where you park your car can increase or decrease the chances of car theft. To prevent car theft, keep your car off the street, ideally in a garage or behind a locked gate. The more barriers you can put between your car and someone trying to take it, the better. Not only is your car harder to get to, breaking into your garage or locked property carries a B & E charge (and the jail time and fines that go along with it) if caught.
Sometimes, however, you can’t keep your car protected. You have park somewhere else if you’re going to the Lobos games or Cottonwood Mall. Parking lots, garages and apartment complexes are like shopping malls for car thieves, so take heed of the other tips to keep your car safe when out and about.
Tip 2: Run When Supervised
Never, ever leave your car running while unattended…no exceptions!
Yes, this means that warming up your car on frosty January mornings requires you to be sitting in it. This also means that if you think you backed up over something, heard a “ping” or may have accidentally grazed someone else’s rearview mirror, turn off your car before getting out to inspect. Car thieves do actually create these kinds of scenarios in order to get you out of your car, get access to your keys (and all the personal information you left on the passenger seat) without breaking a sweat or pulling a weapon.
Tip 3: Keep Your Keys to Yourself
No one should have access to your car keys but you (and other permissible, insured drivers), so don’t put keys in places where others can find them:
- Your ignition
- Your garage
- Your “super secure” hide-a-key rock
If you must hand over your keys to a stranger (e.g. a valet or mechanic), give them only the keys necessary to access your car. Don’t surrender your entire key ring that gives someone access to your house, your mailbox and your storage locker, too.
Tip 4: Like a Fortress
It’s common sense: if you don’t want your car stolen, lock it! And don’t make it easy to pop the locks through an open window…close those up, too. Use whatever built in capabilities your car has to prevent unlawful intruders from getting inside.
(It’s also commonsense to not leave things—like your purse or your iPhone or your laptop—visible. Don’t give thieves more reasons to want your car as opposed to any other Honda Accord in the lot.)
Tip 5: Alarm Yourself
Car alarms are a good idea for anyone. At the very least, having a car equipped with a theft-prevention device usually lowers your insurance premiums. But, if you have a highly valuable, statistically sought after car and/or you live in a neighborhood with high car theft rates, car alarms are particularly recommended.
There are a number of types of car alarms. Noisy alarms are meant to deter thieves because of the attention they draw. Silent alarms can notify you electronically if your car is being disturbed. More sophisticated alarm systems may disable ignition if the car was entered without the key electronically recognized by the engine system.
Cost may be a factor in selecting an after-market alarm system, but saving a few pennies on equipment could cost you thousands in replacement costs.
What Are the Chances?
It’s difficult to calculate the statistical likelihood of a car theft. The Albuquerque metro area and New Mexico State are not in the top 10 car theft areas as reported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in 2011. But, residents know that waking up to broken windows or empty parking spaces isn’t exactly a rare occasion around here. It’s best not to take the chance and get the equipment and instill the habits that protect you from car theft.
What Do I Do if my Car is Stolen?
If your prevention measures prove too little or too late, file a police report immediately. The chances of recovering your car diminish as time passes. If you are able to recover your vehicle, have it inspected to get a full assessment of damages or missing components so that your insurance claim adequately covers your losses.
If you have any questions about protecting your car or want to explore your options for anti-theft devices, contact Quanz Advanced Auto Body!