According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a single year, there were more than 773,000 motor vehicle thefts across the United States. The average car owner lost approximately $8,400 during a car theft and the total monetary loss due to car thieves reached more than $6 billion in 2018.
Your car is an invaluable asset and an investment. Its cost and utility make it an almost irresistible target for thieves, and that’s without the added temptation of any valuables you might leave inside it.
Motor vehicle-related theft is a present and thriving problem in the country. But how do these thieves manage to get in your car, and what can you do to stop them?
Common Car Theft Methods
Car thieves employ a large variety of methods to try to get into your vehicle. Sometimes, their goal is to drive your car away and scrap it for parts, or they might want valuable you’ve kept in your car. Here are some of the most prevalent methods car thieves might use:
Slim Jims are thin strips of metal with notches at the end. You’ve probably seen one of them in a police procedural show or similar movie. Car thieves slip the thin metal between the rubber lining of a car window and use the notches to spring the lock. Some car manufacturers protect the locking mechanisms of their products with a barrier, stopping a Slim Jim from reaching it. Despite these precautions, car thieves have developed thinner Slim Jims to get around these barriers. Contrary to popular belief, using a Slim Jim effectively takes a lot of skill and detailed knowledge of a car’s locking mechanism.
Breaking the Window
A tried and tested method of breaking into a car is simply breaking one of its windows. Car thieves can attempt this if they don’t want to steal the car itself, but rather something valuable left inside it. Without the benefit of thick window film, it’s easier for them to spot items like laptops or handbags. Although car windows are often reinforced, car thieves can use so many tools and even everyday items to shatter the glass, particularly if the model has no alarm or other precautions.
One of the most advanced methods of stealing a car is by signal spoofing, which can only be done on vehicles with keyless entry systems. Your car key fob works by sending out a unique radio signal to your car. Car thieves can use relay attacks; this involves waiting near you until you press the unlock button. A device then essentially clones the signal to open your car door, allowing the thieves to unlock it at their leisure.
Car Theft Prevention Tips
So what can you do to prevent thieves from targeting your car? A healthy dose of common sense and a lot of precaution can go a long way in stopping these types of criminals.
Always Keep Doors Locked
Never leave your car doors unlocked, no matter how quick your errand seems. Even if you’re picking up an item or going to the ATM, lock your doors carefully behind you. Your car and items are at high risk of being stolen if you forget this simple rule. Criminals already have many tools to access your vehicle. There’s no need to make it any easier for them.
Don’t Keep Keys in the Car
Spare keys don’t belong inside the car, and you should never keep any of them in there. If you must have spares, leave them in a secure location at home, like a cabinet. Do not store them in your car’s glove box or your sun visor. Leaving any spare keys inside your car makes it extremely easy for criminals to steal your car and maybe even access it later on.
Sometimes, you’ll have to leave something valuable inside your car, whether that’s your purse, a luxury item, or an electronic gadget like your laptop. If you do, you should never leave them lying around near your windows where passers-by can easily see them. This will just tempt car thieves into breaking into your car. Use heavy tint to obscure your windows and make it harder to see inside and leave valuables on the floor of the car or under some form of cover, like a blanket.
Park in High-visibility Spots
Car thieving takes time, and most methods are easily identifiable as illegal. Thieves need privacy to go about their business, and so high visibility spots are lease likely to attract their attention. Parkin areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic and in clear view from all angles. At night, you should park under streetlights or near areas with security cameras. The additional difficulty posed by the visibility can prove an effective deterrent.
Protecting your car means protecting an investment and preventing a lot of headaches involved in replacing valuables. When it comes to car theft prevention, you should employ every precaution along with a healthy dose of common sense.