The general idea is that if a thief really wants your car or wants to steal something from your car, they can do it no matter what you do. Granted, they have enough time and the right tools and knowledge.
This is why it is virtually impossible to have a 100% burglar-proof car. What you can do, though, is make it so that it costs them as much time and effort as possible. Making your car look as difficult to burglarize and steal is the best theft deterrent there is.
After years of dealing with car-related crime, our experts have compiled these tips to help you better protect your car from opportunistic criminals.
Do Not Leave Your Car Running
Unfortunately, many people tend to leave their cars running when they run into the store or do something else. However, most cars can easily get stolen meanwhile—even if the owner has the key fob with themselves.
This also includes never leaving your car unlocked or with windows down if left unattended.
Do Not Leave Your Car Key With Anybody
The general rule of thumb is never to give or leave your key with anybody for extended periods of time. The reason for this is that they can duplicate the key even if it is a chipped key.
Use a Quality Car Alarm
Although between 95% to 99% of the triggered car alarms are false alarms using a car alarm is still well worth your while.
However, not all car alarms are created equal.
Ideally, you will want to have a car alarm with features like glass break, proximity, seismic and tilt sensors, mobile notifications, and more.
Get a GPS Locator
A GPS tracking device may not help with preventing your car from getting stolen. However, it is a great way to retrieve your car if something happened to it, and a simple GPS locator can prove itself irreplaceable.
One of the most popular car tracking devices is LoJack which is touted to have a 90% recovery rate.
Alternatively, a hardwired cellphone with a tracker app on it can also be used.
Install a Kill Switch on Your Car
There are many different types of kill switches that owners can use. A kill switch can be installed on any of the car’s important running parts like the ignition, fuel pump, battery, or fuse box.
Installing a kill switch on your car is a very effective way to prevent your car from getting stolen and deter most thieves since they will have to spend a lot of time looking where the switch is located.
There are also remote kill switches that allow owners to shut down their cars from distance.
Switch Your Coil Wire and Spark Plug Wires
Switching the spark plug wires with the coil wires on the distributor is the easiest way to deter thieves. It costs nothing as well.
This can result in the car backfiring, but the car will not move and will attract a lot of attention, too.
Use a Battery Disconnect Switch or a Quick Disconnect Wire
Some experts suggest putting a battery disconnect switch. Since there is no power, the car won’t start.
However, this method has its downsides, too.
Owners will have to set up their radio stations, average MPG, clock, and other things every time they connect the battery. On top of that, the alarm system may stop working, allowing thieves to have an easier time stealing the car by towing it away.
Chain Your Car to Something Sturdy
This may seem like something too excessive. However, there have been reports of people stealing cars using tow trucks.
On top of that, using your emergency brake and turning the wheels toward the curb can also help in making a car more of a hassle to steal.
You can see how easy it can be to steal a car using a tow truck in the video below.
Use a Tire Clamp Lock
A set of quality tire locks can go a long in securing your car and preventing thieves from stealing it.
A clamp lock is easy to spot and thus will act as a good visual deterrent to most thieves.
Use a Steering Wheel Lock
Steering wheel locks are another very cheap and very visible thief deterrent. Steering wheel locks are thus good for protecting your car as most opportunistic thieves will simply walk away and look for other less secured vehicles.
More about this in our article on How To Prevent Steering Wheel Theft?
Sometimes as simple a thing as a simple window tag or sticker can be more than enough to deter some thieves.
A good example of how one can utilize such a tag can be seen in the video below. The simple reason why such a thing can work is that it telegraphs to the burglar that you have done your homework and have not left anything of great value to them in your car.
Use a Security Film for the Windows
A security film can catch most thieves off guard when they try to shatter the car’s window only to find it will not break in the same way most other widows do.
Of course, a security film will not make the widows of your car indestructible however the film will act as a good deterrent as it will make breaking into the car a lot more difficult.
Don’t Leave Stuff in Your Car
Leaving anything in your car in plain view is a big no-no. Sometimes thieves can be attracted even by otherwise cheap things or even a stock car radio.
So ensure you are not leaving behind anything worth breaking into your car. This includes your GPS and any items that have your personal information on them.
Choose Your Parking Spot Carefully
The general rule of thumb is to always park in areas where it will be the biggest hassle to steal and break into your car. These are well-lit areas where there are other cars and people walking by.
Ideally, you should park indoors whenever that is possible.
Consider Using a Removable Steering Wheel
Sometimes removing the steering wheel altogether may be a very effective way of preventing anyone from simply getting inside the car and driving away.
Use Locking Lugs
Locking lugs are a good way to make the process of stealing your wheels a little more challenging.
Keep in mind that locking lugs are not impossible to remove. However, removing them may require more effort and time, which will simply dissuade most opportunistic thieves.
Also, do not leave the key for the locking lugs inside your car.
Remove One or Several Fuses
A very simple way to burglar-proof your car is to remove one of the important fuses. For example, the electronic fuel injection (EFI) fuse and the engine control unit (ECU) fuses can be removed, which will prevent the car from starting unless the thief carries the necessary fuses on them.
Use a Clutch Pedal Lock
Another way you can slow down burglars is by using a clutch pedal lock. Not many people will expect that, and it can cause them to give up quickly because otherwise, they may get caught up while trying to remove the lock.
Place Your Valuables in a Vehicle Safe
Not all thieves will be looking for ways to steal your car, some will simply try to steal anything left inside the car, and you may not be able to hide your belongings.
In these cases, your best bet is to find a suitable lockbox or safe that you can place inside your car. These can vary from permanent vehicle safes to portable safes.
Protect the Different Car Parts
It is not always all about the car or individual valuables that can be stolen. Some thieves will simply try to steal parts from the car, so it is worth going over the most often stolen car parts and making sure they are protected in some way.
Some of the most commonly stolen car parts are:
- Catalytic converters
- Car radios and music players
- GPS systems
- Rims and tires
- Car batteries
- License plates
Avoid Certain Cars
If you are currently in the market for a new or used car, it is worth researching which cars are most often stolen and avoid buying them.
For example, some of the most stolen cars in the USA are:
- Honda Civic
- Honda Accord
- Ford Pickup (Full-size)
- Chevrolet Pickup (Full-size)
- Toyota Camry
- Ford Fusion
- Honda Civic
- Hyundai Elantra
- Nissan Altima
- Honda CR-V
- Toyota Corolla
- GMC Pickup (Full size)
- Hyundai Sonata
- Dodge Pickup (full size)
- Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
Another thing you should consider is to avoid keyless cars. Some keyless cars will still require the driver to have their key fob on them or even have a physical key. These are more secure. However, not all cars are like that.
Keyless cars are subject to relay theft as the signal emitted from the key can be duplicated and used to start your car.
Consider Getting a Newer Car
Some of the newer cars come with very sophisticated security systems that will deter nearly all thieves. Some cars can even directly send notifications to the owner if the alarm has been triggered.
Usually, cars built after 2007 can have chipped car keys, without which the car won’t start. (That being said, on older cars, aftermarket immobilizers can also be installed.