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Comprehensive Guide on How to Prevent Car Theft

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Car thief trying to break into a car with a screwdriver. Car thief, car theft.

Did you know that in 2018, a staggering 748,841 cases of motor vehicle theft occurred in the US? Or that these crimes led to over $6 billion in property losses?

Granted, the FBI did note that the above figures represent a decrease from the previous year. However, that’s still almost three-quarters of a million stolen and damaged vehicles.

How about in Massachusetts, are these crimes also prevalent? Well, in Springfield alone, a whopping 1,027 vehicle thefts occurred in 2017.

Either way, you should learn how to prevent car theft; otherwise, you may find your prized ride gone. The last thing you want to happen is to have your vehicle stolen, especially if it still has a lien on it.

Ready to learn the top car theft protection strategies as well as how to prevent car break-ins? Then keep reading, as we’ve rounded up some of them in this guide!

Park It Inside

Parking a car inside a garage seems obvious, but the thing is, at least a quarter of US adults say they don’t or can’t do it. According to them, their garages have become “too cluttered” to accommodate their car. Many others have switched to new vehicles that have outgrown their garage.

In addition, some older homes only feature a single-car garage. In the Bay State, this is no longer enough, as the average ownership rate here is two cars per household.

If you do have a garage, but it has gotten disorganized, it’s time to straighten things up. The clean-up may take half a day, but that’s nothing compared to having your car stolen.

What if you belong in either of the two other groups that have a larger vehicle or own multiple cars? In this case, you may want to consider a home renovation project. This way, you can upgrade your garage, which won’t only help keep your ride safe, but also boost your home’s value.

Make Sure You Have a Fully-Functional Garage Door

Massachusetts is one of the five safest states in the entire United States. However, car break-ins statistics show that its property crime rate sits at 1,437 cases per 100,000 people. It does rank lowest in terms of larceny, but such crimes still occur at a rate of 1,078 per 100,000 individuals.

With that said, one of the top car theft prevention tactics is to ensure your garage door works properly. Most car thieves are opportunists, so they can exploit even a tiny crack in your garage’s entry point. They can jack it up, let themselves inside, and drive away with your vehicle.

Other property criminals are more strategic, using special devices for their dirty work. For example, they may use a decoding device to unlock an older garage door. This is especially true for doors that still run on a fixed code.

If your garage door opener is either faulty or outdated, have it fixed or upgraded. Modern openers now utilize a security technology called “rolling codes.” These are encryptions that change or “roll” every time you open your door, so they’re harder to crack.

Lock the Steering Wheel

If you don’t have a garage to park your car in, then be sure that you at least lock the steering wheel. A steering wheel lock is one of the oldest, but still effective anti-theft devices on the market.

The technology behind it is simple: it fixes the steering wheel in place, making it immovable. Since it locks the wheel in place, someone who isn’t you can’t operate the vehicle.

There are two basic types of steering wheel locks that you can get, one of which is the horizontal style. One end affixes to the steering wheel’s 3 o’clock position; the other attaches to the 9 o’clock position. One side also has a longer tip, ensuring that the wheel can’t turn far.

The second type works by having one side of the lock tethered to the top of the wheel. The other end stretches out all the way to the front dash. This extension, in turn, prevents the wheel from moving.

Keep the Jackers Away With a Tire Lock

A tire lock can also be useful in preventing car theft, especially for one always parked outside. Using this makes the most sense if you don’t have a garage or if you need to park it outdoors for a long time.

Do note that tire locks (or clamps) are different from wheel locks. The former is the same as those used by road officers on vehicles parked illegally. However, the law permits average car owners to use them in their cars.

Tire locks, also known as tire boots, consist of a clamp that prevents the wheel from moving. Each device surrounds the wheel, making it virtually immovable. This, in turn, keeps your car secure and in place, while also preventing the removal of the wheel itself.

You’d want to protect the wheels themselves because there’s a black market for these car parts. In fact, in 2018, a Weymouth, MA Honda dealership had at least $200,000 worth of wheels stolen from their products. That’s how valuable car wheels are, so you should keep them secure with a tire boot.

Engage the Kill Switch

A kill switch also offers one of the best ways to prevent car theft. It’s a piece of technology that disrupts the flow of electricity to one of the critical systems of a vehicle. In most cases, this electrical disruption occurs in the fuel pump.

The only way to make the car run again is to flip or disengage the switch. However, car thieves won’t know where exactly you’ve hidden the switch.

Remember, most of these criminals want to drive away with their victims’ cars as soon as they can. Kill switches make it difficult for them to do that, as they’d have to spend a lot of time trying to locate the device. Because of this, they’re more than likely to get away from your vehicle than to drive away with it.

The drawback is that kill switches require specialized knowledge of vehicle wiring. If you are confident about your mechanic skills, then, by all means, install one in your car. However, if you’re not sure about which wire is which, you may want to have the switch engaged by a pro.

Install a Robust Car Alarm System

Modern car alarms consist of a computer, controller, receiver, loudspeaker, and several sensors. The sensors can be anywhere in the car, such as the front, rear, top, windows, and doors. The controller is a small device that you press to either arm or disarm the alarm.

The flashing light that’s visible from outside connects to the computer. The receiver is the device that picks up the code that the controller emits. It’s the one that tells the alarm system’s computer to either kick in or turn off.

Whenever you switch the alarm on, this activates all the attached sensors. When the sensors pick up unusual movement, this triggers the computer to sound the alarm. The loudspeaker, in turn, starts to blare to notify you of a potential break-in.

Thieves, on the other hand, are likely to get scared and run away even before they can slide into your car.

Do note that the effectiveness of your car alarm system depends on its sensors. Basic ones often only come with one or two sensor types, such as door and impact sensors. If you want better car theft protection, be sure to consider the following types of sensors.

Door Sensors

Door sensors are those that monitor for unusual or suspicious door openings. So long as you’ve engaged the alarm, anyone who tries to open one of the car doors ends up triggering the sensor. The loudspeaker then sounds out the warning.

Window Sensors

Window sensors trigger the alarm system when they detect glass breakage. More advanced devices can also perceive unusual glass movement, such as forced lowering.

In many cases, the loud noises they generate are enough to deter thieves from driving away with your car. However, some thieves may still enter your vehicle after breaking your windows.

That’s why it’s also best to keep your steering wheel under lock and key.

Impact or Shock Sensors

These work much like window sensors, except that they can pick up vibrations all around your car. For instance, they can detect suspicious activity going on at the back of your vehicle. Those shocks or movements may indicate that a thief is trying to access the contents of your trunk.

The drawback to shock sensors is that they can trigger “false” alarms. That’s because their job is to remain conscious of any impact or movement. So, even if someone only bumps onto your car by accident, the alarm still goes off.

Tilt Sensors

These sensors monitor for any change in the “straightness” or “levelness” of a parked car. These changes can occur if someone attempts to tow or jack up your vehicle. In addition, they can notify you if your vehicle moves due to an incline on the ground.

Comprehensive Car Security Systems

You can further increase the safety of your vehicle by upgrading to a full car security system. These already come with many of the sensors integrated into a vehicle alarm system. However, they also boast other features, like remote starting and smartphone syncing.

Remote Starting

This allows you to start your engine with a single tap of a button. Some of the more advanced starters even let you turn the air conditioning or heating on. Moreover, you can switch the engine off using the same controller.

Most recent car models allow for the integration of remote starting technology. Consider getting this for your vehicle as it can help you kill the engine in case a thief attempts to drive off with it.

Driver’s Side Priority Unlock

Most remotes that let you unlock a vehicle do so by unlatching all doors. This gives thieves a chance to take you by surprise by accessing one of the passenger doors as you open your car.

The driver’s side priority unlock allows you to open only the driver’s door. The rest of the vehicle doors stay locked and secure.

Smartphone Integration

Modern car security systems allow you to control their features with your smartphone. For instance, you can lock or unlock the driver’s door with a single tap of your phone. You may even be able to view your car’s security cameras using your smart device.

GPS Capability

A comprehensive car security system almost always comes with GPS capability. With this feature, you’ll always know where your car is, and if a thief drives away with it.

GPS is also an excellent addition to car owners who lend their vehicles to other drivers. One example is if you have a teen driver who usually borrows your car. With a GPS tracker, you can monitor the speed at which your teenage son or daughter drives.

Don’t Forget to Consider Comprehensive Auto Insurance

While all these tips can help prevent car theft, you should still prepare for the worst. Some crafty car thieves may still be able to bypass your security measures. As such, it’s best to add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy.

Comprehensive coverage isn’t part of the mandatory insurance minimum in Massachusetts. However, it can still be helpful, as it helps to pay to replace a stolen car. It also helps cover the repair costs for vehicle damages caused by a thief or a vandal.

Also, be sure to list the drivers who you lend your vehicle to in your car insurance policy. This way, if your car gets stolen while it’s in their care, your insurer will still pay to replace the vehicle.

Note that comprehensive coverage will make your overall insurance premiums go up. However, you can offset some of the added costs with the help of an anti-theft device discount. You may also qualify for other insurance discounts like the safe driver incentive.

Deter Thieves by Following These Strategies on How to Prevent Car Theft Now

There you have it, your complete guide on how to prevent car theft and break-ins. As you can see, there are many devices, like extra locks and alarms, that can help deter car thieves. The more of these you use, the less likely it is for your car to become part of vehicle theft statistics.

Interested in learning more about the anti-theft device discount on car insurance? If so, then please know that our team here at LoPriore is always ready to help. Get in touch with us now, and we’ll be happy to answer all your discount-related questions!

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