The fear and anxiety involved in having a car stolen is immense, and in addition to the panic, the monetary loss is usually huge. It’s true that sometimes a stolen car will be picked up from one location and found within 48 hours at a location two miles away. It’s also possible that your car may be in pretty much the same shape it was in when you last saw it; unfortunately, the opposite is possible as well. There’s a possibility that you won’t see your car again, and an even better possibility that if and when you do get it back, there will have been significant damage done.
So how do you best protect yourself and your loved ones from having to go through this experience? Well, first things first…
1) Never leave your car on or leave the keys in the ignition while you run inside a store or gas station; a high percentage of theft occurs in this scenario. Thieves love the easy-in, easy-out method. If you have small children in the car, take them inside with you. A child in the car isn’t always a deterrent for thieves; plenty of kidnapping cases (intentional or not) have happened this way.
2) Always lock your car. Almost half of all theft occurs in unlocked cars. Whether you’re in a tiny town, a big city, or your grandma’s neighborhood, there are bad guys everywhere, and it isn’t worth the risk.
3) Don’t hide your spare key under your car or in any of the other ‘universal’ hiding places. A professional criminal will know all the same tricks you do
4) Don’t leave your title or registration in the vehicle. Having the title will help a thief to more easily dispose of your car.
5) If it’s summertime or you live in a particularly hot climate you may be tempted to leave the windows open while you’re parked. Don’t. You want the guy scanning the parking lot to see your car and decide it isn’t worth the trouble.
6) If you have to leave something of value in the car (a phone, a laptop, a purse, etc.) put it inside a compartment or under a seat. Remember what we said about wanting a criminal to decide your car isn’t ‘worth’ breaking into.
7) Before getting out of your car, do a quick scan of the area to see if anything is out of the ordinary. Thieves often work in twos or threes. If you see any unusual loitering or suspicious people, it might be best to go somewhere else. It’s smart to do the same scan once you’re inside the building. If a thief can hang around in the store and observe the people coming in and out, they pick out prime suspects relatively easily (based on whether it’s one person or multiple, how strong the person appears, etc.).
As we’ve said before, most criminals are looking for an easy job. Just like they don’t want a human target that will fight back or draw attention, they don’t want the headache of picking a lock or causing a scene by breaking a window on a car. This works in your favor; you can drastically reduce your odds of being attacked or robbed simply by taking the proper precautions and being aware of your surroundings.