Theft from a parked car is one of the most common residential crimes reported to police. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, car break-ins make up almost 40% of all larcenies – and possibly more when you consider how many victims may not be motivated to file a report!
The good news is that preventing car break-ins is easy. Most of the vehicle safety tips that deal with theft prevention are nothing more than common sense. Unfortunately, we’re all guilty of ignoring common sense now and then, like when we’re running late or the kids are distracting us.
So even if the prevention tips listed below are old news, take a minute to read through them so they stay front of mind. The more familiar you are with precautions like these, the more likely it is they will become a habit and something you do without even having to think about it.
First, never keep anything of value in your car unless you’re in it. As tempting as it is to leave your wallet or phone hidden in your car if you’re just running to the mailbox, remember that there are thieves who will break into a vehicle to steal small change – and when they’re rooting around the glove box, they’re not going to overlook your valuables.
Don’t leave bags, wallets, briefcases, boxes, backpacks, or any other container in your car. Your gym bag may not seem like an attractive target to you but to thieves it’s a bag that might just contain a tablet or a smartphone.
Your chargers and smartphone accessories send a clear signal to would-be thieves that there could be a phone, tablet, GPS, or even a laptop hidden somewhere in the vehicle. Stash accessories out of sight in the glove box or center console.
When you park at home or at work, remove garage door openers, key cards, and your house or work keys from the car. You should also bring anything with identifying information on it (e.g., mail, store cards, work IDs) with you when you get out of the car.
Whenever possible park in parking garages or designated driveways versus on the street. Before you walk away from your vehicle, remove the keys, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and set the alarm.
Avoid parking your car near anything that limits visibility like dumpsters, large vans, trucks, or wooded areas. And park in well-lit public areas. Thieves are less likely to break into a vehicle when chances are good they will be observed.
If your car doesn’t have a built-in security system, use a mechanical locking device like a club that locks to the car’s steering wheel, column, or brake. These may seem old fashioned but consider this – when was the last time you reacted to the sound of a car alarm with another other than annoyance?
Keep your eyes open! Taking a minute to assess your surroundings when you exit or enter your parked car can go a long way toward keeping your possessions (and you) safe.
These may seem like such simple strategies but they are still the best ways to prevent break-ins. And while sometimes taking everything out of the car or double checking to make sure that doors are locked can seem like a hassle, it beats coming back and finding your valuables gone.