Owning a car in San Diego is a modern convenience that is often taken for granted. From residential burglaries to auto theft, it’s important to consider how you can try to prevent these crimes from happening to you.
Imagine how it would affect your life if your family’s Jeep or your commuter vehicle was suddenly taken from you. How would you get to work? Is there a store within walking distance to purchase groceries? Who would pick your children up from school and bring them to their extracurricular activities?
On top of the previously mentioned inconveniences, a stolen car could cost you thousands of dollars to replace. Having a “disaster plan,” or at least planning for risk mitigation, can help you to prepare for the worst (and hopefully avoid it altogether).
If you’d like to take careful steps to help prevent your car from being stolen, you’ve come to the right place. The following precautions require very little time and money and will help to prevent your car from being stolen. Avoid these 7 mistakes and be proactive about keeping your car safe from thieves:
Mistake #1: Leaving Your Vehicle Unlocked
While it may seem like a no-brainer to keep your car doors locked, many people tend to believe that so long as there are no valuables in their vehicle, it will be less attractive to break into. But if they aren’t after valuables, your car is the target. Leaving the doors unlocked — even for just a few minutes — makes it that much easier and quieter for a thief to get inside and hot wire your vehicle or start the engine with a relay transmitter.
Always be sure to keep your car doors locked, windows closed, and ensure the sunroof is completely closed.
Mistake #2: Parking Out of Sight
Many people believe that parking garages are one of the safest places to park their vehicle. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Parking garages are often secluded with security cameras only covering certain angles. This makes it easier for a thief to break into your car in privacy.
When parking in a public garage, try to park close to the attendant or in sight of a security camera. Avoid parking in back alleyways or remote parking lots. Instead, park in well-lit areas in sight of people passing by. This will make it more difficult for someone to steal your vehicle without being noticed.
Mistake #3: Keeping Spare Keys Nearby
Car owners used to believe it was safe to hide their spare or main key somewhere on the exterior of their car like a wheel well or in a roof rack. Many car thieves are aware of this trick, making it essential that car owners know where their keys are at all times. If you aren’t one of those people, your vehicle can still be vulnerable if you leave your keys in your vehicle, garage, or even in your own home.
For example, crooks can take advantage of the emergency release lever or cord and try to pull open your garage door from the outside. If your service door to your garage doesn’t have a deadbolt and strike plate, they could also break in this way, giving them access to any keys you keep in your garage. And although it’s fairly uncommon, criminals can even steal a keyless ignition car by walking around your house and sending an amplified signal to a transmitter that unlocks and starts your car.
To avoid this, invest in securing your garage with high security door locks and keep your spare keys in an RFID signal blocking bag inside your home.
Mistake #4: Storing Valuables in the Cabin
No car is more susceptible to being stolen or broken into than a car with valuables in plain sight. Never leave electronic items like phones, laptops or tablets out in the open.
If for some reason you are unable to bring your personal belongings with you while your car is parked, tuck away any items away in the glove compartment or trunk. But be careful when you hide your items; thieves are trained to watch for people hiding valuables after they park.
While leaving valuables in your car may not always lead to your car being stolen, it will greatly increase the chances of it being broken into.
Mistake #5: Leaving the Car Running
Even if you are running a quick errand or want your car to warm up on a cold morning, resist the temptation to leave your car running. While this may be common practice for those leaving pets inside their vehicles or for people who live in cold climates in the winter, a running car is bait for thieves.
And if it gets stolen, you might just be out of luck. In some states like Texas, your insurance is not responsible for a stolen vehicle where your keys were left in the ignition. Always turn your car off and properly lock it when you are not inside.
Mistake #6: Not Keeping Your Keys with You
Whenever your car is in need of a quick top off at the gas station, be sure not to leave your keys inside. Even if you pay at the pump and stay in sight of the car the whole time you are getting gas, keys left inside an unlocked car make it very easy for a thief to hop in the driver’s seat and drive off.
If you must go inside to make a payment, purchase something, or use the restroom, be sure to bring your keys inside with you. Roll up all the windows, lock all doors and hide valuables before you exit the vehicle.
Mistake #7: Not Utilizing Anti-Theft Devices
One of the best precautions you can take when it comes to your car’s safety is to install an anti-theft device. Even just installing an additional locking device such as a wheel, pedal, hood or steering wheel lock can deter a thief due to the extra work it will take to get around it. These are fairly inexpensive upgrades but will require you to put them on and off each time you use them.
Another anti-theft upgrade you can install is a kill switch, which can be integrated in a variety of ways. A kill switch will prevent the car from turning on by disconnecting the connection to your battery, fuel lines, or ignition switch wire. It’s worth looking into if you want to ensure that your vehicle is harder to steal.
Not only will installing one these devices make stealing your car more difficult, you may be applicable for a discount on your car insurance by upgrading your security features.