According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, over 773,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen in 2017. Although car theft has declined in recent decades, the Insurance Information Institute (III) notes that a vehicle is stolen every 40 seconds in the United States.
Thieves have become increasingly knowledgeable, using smart keys to steal cars and change vehicle identification numbers to avoid detection, III says. So, how do you help protect yourself from being a victim of theft? Be sure to secure your car and take preventive measures to keep your car safe. Here are 10 things you can do to protect your car from theft.
first Locking Your Doors
Keeping the doors locked is the first step in deterring a thief. It's good to get used to checking your car doors.
2nd Remove Your Keys from the Vehicle
Never leave your keys in the ignition, says the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). If your key is in the car, a thief can simply hit a window and run off. Firestone also warns that you leave the car, even if you just go into a store for a quick case. A running vehicle can be a simple mark for a thief, especially if it is unattended or unlocked.
3rd Do not leave a spare key near your vehicle
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that you take your keys when leaving your vehicle. Some people hold a spare key under the car or in the glove box, only if they become locked ̵
4th Close Windows
Keep your windows completely closed, says NICB. A thief can easily reach your car through an open window – take what they can reach or unlock the door to get full access to your vehicle and everything in it.
5th Park in well-equipped areas
Avoid parking in areas that are poorly lit or places not immediately seen by passers-by. Firestone Complete Auto Care recommends parking under a light and well-traded area, as thieves can be deterred if they know they can be easily seen.
6th Installing an Audio Alarm and Anti-Theft System
NHTSA recommends that you install an audible alarm system if your car did not come with one and use a visible theft device. An audible alarm is designed to emit a loud noise, often the car's horn, if someone tries to enter the car while the alarm is on. The unwanted attention attracted by the noise can affect a potential thief, NHTSA says. There are a lot of car alarms available, says Angie's list, but remember that you might need to have a mechanic or an alarm technician install it for you – especially if the installation requires you to work with the car's management system.
Visible devices, such as a steering wheel lock, window seal or a flashing light of an alarm system, may also be sufficient to deter a car thief, according to the NHTSA. If they are not sure they can get away with the car quietly or fear they can catch, Firestone says they might just avoid your vehicle altogether.
7th Installing a vehicle immobilizer
Thieves can bypass your ignition with "hotwiring" your car, but you can help prevent this by using a immobilizer system, NHTSA says. According to NICB, the immobilizer can contain smart keys, death switch and wireless ignition authentication. They will essentially deactivate the vehicle so that a thief cannot handle it. You may need to have a mechanic or technician familiar with the vehicle's wiring and computer systems installing the immobilizer in your vehicle, says Angie's list.
8th Installing a Tracking System
You may want to consider installing a tracking system, which can also be called a vehicle recovery system. (As with the other alarms you may need to have a professional installation of the device.) When your car is stolen, this tracking system will use wireless and / or GPS technology to send a signal to the police or a monitoring service on your vehicle location, says NICB. This can help the police recover your vehicle faster.
ninth Do not leave valuables in your car
One way to attract a thief is to leave a bag, mobile or other valuable item in a visible area of your car. It is best to leave something of value at home, but if you need something important with you, keep it out of sight. Firestone also recommends that you place valuables in the trunk before you get there, as some thieves include parking spaces – looking for people moving items to their trunk. Once you have left the car, they will break into the luggage to grab anything you stashed away.
10th Be Alert
Be aware of your surroundings when parking your car, says PropertyCasualty360.com. If you are careful about the safety of your car or see someone loitering around the parking lot, it is best to park somewhere else. Firestone also recommends that you check that the car's windows and doors are closed before leaving the car unattended.
What to do if your car is stolen
If your car is stolen, contact the police immediately. NHTSA says you may need to provide the following information to the police:
- Year of the car, make, model and color
- License number
- Vehicle identification number (also known as "VIN")  You also want your insurance company to know within 24 hours if your vehicle has been stolen, says NHTSA.
While car theft is not as common as it once was, it is unfortunately still something you need to protect yourself Given that you take some simple precautions, you can reduce the risk of your car being stolen.
Originally published May 2, 2011.