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How to prevent car theft

Few motorists think much about preventing vehicle theft . until their cars are stolen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds in the United States. Many of those are recovered, but being victimized by car thieves can be a nerve wracking and unsettling experience for car owners.

While car thefts are unpredictable, they can be prevented. While even the most proactive anti-theft car owner can be victimized by car thieves, there are ways to reduce that risk.
  • Avoid the most stolen vehicle makes. The 2016 "Hot Wheels" report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau lists the most frequently stolen vehicles from 2015, the most recent year for reporting. These include: the 1997, 1996 & 1997 Honda Accord; 1998 & 2000 Honda Civic; 2005 & 2006 Ford F-Series pickup truck; 2004 & 2005 Chevrolet full-size pickup; and the 2014 Toyota Camry.

  • Lock your car. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even when driving. Many cars are stolen while left unlocked, even though power locks now require just the push of a button to lock the entire vehicle. Similarly, close all windows and the sunroof when the car is parked.

  • Keep the vehicle registration in your wallet. Geico notes that car thieves can escape arrest if they can produce the vehicle's registration upon being pulled over. Keep your registration out of the car and on your person.

  • Keep track of your keys. Do not hide a car key outside of the vehicle in the event you get locked out of your car. Thieves are aware of this trick and can steal your car.

  • Keep valuables out of sight. Do not leave money, jewelry, electronics, or any other valuable items in plain sight in the car. Remove them promptly, or keep them in a trunk or under a cargo bed so they're not visible to potential thieves.

  • Park in well-lit, heavily trafficked areas. Parking in a well-lit area can deter criminals, but parking close to building entrances and near parking lot security cameras adds extra layers of protection. If you must park in a parking garage, try to park close to the attendant.

  • Employ an anti-theft device. Anti-theft devices include vehicle immobilizer systems and car alarms. Insurance companies may discount premiums for vehicles that are equipped with anti-theft devices.

  • Use technological recovery tools. GPS technology can pinpoint your car if it is stolen and send that information to law enforcement officials. Some of these devices also can slow down vehicles or remotely block the car's ignition switch.

  • Use VIN window etching. Have each window etched with the vehicle identification number. This will make the car less attractive to thieves looking to sell car parts or the entire vehicle.
Motorists can take an active role in preventing car theft and safeguarding their automotive investments.

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