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How to Prevent Car Theft

Car Theft

Car theft is one of the fastest growing businesses in the U.S., increasing nationally by almost 50% in the past three years. In fact, one car out of every 50 will be stolen, and in some cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., the odds are almost double. These tips can help you prevent car theft and avoid dangerous situations.

• Keep doors locked and windows rolled up when driving. A car stopped at a red light is a sitting duck for “snatch and run” thieves, who can grab a purse and take off before the light changes. When you drop a passenger off, always lock the door behind them.

• Don’t keep title or registration in the glove compartment (unless required by state law). This paperwork makes it easier for the thief to sell your car. If you must keep this in your vehicle, make sure you have copies at home.

• Enroll in your police department’s anti-theft service. They’ll mark and register key auto parts. Because the parts can then be traced, you can prevent car theft as your auto will be much less attractive to professionals who want the vehicle for its parts.

• While looking for a spot in a parking lot, watch out for potential threats. Avoid parking next to a van, the sliding panel could be concealing an assailant. If you return to find a van parked next to the driver’s side of the vehicle, always enter through the passenger door.

Make sure thieves can see that your car is protected. Install a steering wheel lock, upgrade door locks with “anti-theft” buttons, and place an alarm sticker in the window. If your vehicle looks too hard to steal, you will probably prevent car theft as the thief will find another one that looks easy.

• Don’t hide a spare set of keys in your car – especially in one of those small magnetic boxes that attach to the bumper. Any hiding place you can come up with, a thief already knows about.

• If your car breaks down on a highway, stay inside the vehicle until help arrives. At night, turn on emergency flashing lights. If a passing motorist offers assistance, ask them to call the police, tow truck or auto club for you. Always ask tow truck drivers for identification, and discuss towing charges before you allow them access to your vehicle.

• When approaching your car in a parking lot at night, look under neighboring cars. Assailants may be hiding behind another car waiting for an easy mark. If you see someone suspicious looking, yell for help and head for safety. If you are mistaken, all you’ve risked is a little embarrassment.

• Park your car facing the street or, in parking lots, back your car into the parking space so it never faces a wall. You can prevent car theft this way as thieves don’t like audience when they work.

• If you regularly use valet parking don’t use a keyring that indicates your home address and phone number, and always keep house keys on a separate chain. Otherwise, you may be telling a potential thief where you live and providing him easy entry into your home.

• Lock the doors, close the windows and take the keys. Park in busy, well-lighted areas whenever possible. Never leave expensive items in plain sight; this only encourages potential thieves.

• When parking turn the steering wheel sharply to the left or right. Locking the steering column this way makes it difficult for the professional auto thief to tow away a car. Try to park in the middle of a neighborhood block since cars positioned at the end of a block are easy targets for auto thieves with tow trucks.

• Use a variety of locations when regularly parking on a street, since thieves often rely on predictability. Remember to lock a garage’s door as well as the car’s doors. The more locks and doors a thief encounters, the less likely he or she will succeed. When taking a trip and leaving a car at home, ask a close friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on the car and drive it periodically. Giving the impression that the owner is at home and regularly using his or her vehicle should deter most thieves and avoid car theft.

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