Keeping Your Wheels
How to Protect Your Car or Truck from Theft
VEHICLE THEFT IS A BIG PROBLEM
- One car is stolen every 19 seconds in the U.S. That's less time than it takes most people to unlock their car, put on their seat belt and start the engine.
- Approximately one out of every 119 registered motor vehicles was stolen in 1990.
- In fact, if auto theft were a legitimate business in the U.S. it would rank 50th among the Fortune 500 companies (Motor Trend, January 1991)
- More than 2/3 of all auto thefts take place at night, and over half occur in residential areas.
- The thief who drives your car away is 200 times more likely to have a serious accident with it than you are.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SAFEGUARD YOUR CAR
- Whether you leave your car for a minute or for several hours, roll up the windows, lock it, and take the key.
- Park in a busy, well lighted area.
- Carry your registration with you. Don't leave any personal identification documents, keys or credit cards anywhere in the vehicle.
- If you park in a commercial lot, leave only the ignition key, and make certain that no identifying information is attached.
- Keep packages or valuables in the trunk. If you leave anything in the car, make certain it is covered and out of sight.
- Purchase stereo components, CBs or cellular phones that can be removed from their brackets and placed in a more secure location upon parking.
THEFT PREVENTION DEVICES
AlarmsAfter years of false alarms, people have stopped paying attention to alarms. There is no statistical evidence that they reduce auto theft. Any serious anti-theft device must do more than just make noise.
Kill SwitchesA kill switch is a simple toggle device that shuts off the engine's ignition system. A risk is that they may be accidentally engaged by the driver. Improperly installed switches can damage the electrical systems on newer cars, and possibly void the warranty.
Steering Wheel LocksSteering wheel locks are visible from outside the car and prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees. A variation on the steering wheel lock is the J-bar or grip lock, an adjustable steel bar rod that hooks under the brake and locks to the steering wheel.
CollarsCollars are devices that prevent the steering column from being stripped.
Etching PartsMany cars are stolen for parts. Professional thieves shy away from a vehicle that has had the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into the doors, windows, windshield, etc.
Anti-Theft SystemsStarting at less than $300 and going higher as options are added, anti-theft systems typically include siren alarms, starter disablers, motion sensors, remote control activation, panic buttons and shock detectors on doors, windows or trunk lids. A beeper can alert the owner when someone trips the system.
Many newer cars are equipped with a combination of anti-theft devices such as alarms, flashing lights, ignition kill switches, steering wheel locks, etc. These, used in combination with etching, are the most effective deterrent.
A CaveatSpending money on anti-theft devices doesn't help if drivers don't follow the basic precaution of locking their cars, taking the key, and activating the anti-theft device they have installed.