While some things like extra insurance coverage and car alarms can be expensive, there are completely free and cost effective ways to ward of theft.
While anyone’s car can be stolen, The National Insurance Crime Bureau has found that vehicles of a model year 2000 or older are the most targeted. More specifically, the most widely stolen car is a mid-1990’s Honda because all older Honda’s have similar ignitions. Older vehicles are more likely to be stolen because they are generally not flashy, blend in well with other vehicles on the road, and often have discontinued parts that make them more valuable to salvage yards. Owning and maintaining a car is quite a large expense, so paying for extra precautions can seem pretty unappealing. However, protecting your car doesn’t have to cost money. While some things like extra insurance coverage and car alarms can be expensive, there are completely free ways to ward of theft.
How to secure your car for free:
- Keep it in a garage Thieves usually go for cars parked out on the street because they’re easily accessible and possibly far from your home. So park your car in your garage and be sure to lock both your car and garage doors. If you don’t have a garage, it might be money well spent to rent a space in a local parking garage. If you don’t have access to a garage, at least make sure you park your car in an area with good lighting and a low crime rate. But not to worry. There are many less expensive ways to secure your vehicle.
- Lock your doors Seems like commonsense, but this is often forgotten. Even if you’ll only be away from your car for a minute, you should look the doors in case anyone is waiting for you to leave it unattended. You should also never leave your keys in the ignition.
- Shut windows and sunroof Even if you only leave your windows open a tiny bit, this can still encourage break ins. Don’t leave your windows open simply because you’re worried about the inside of your car getting too hot. Buy windshield shades and never leave animals or children alone in the car.
- Judge a car by its cover Not only should you maintain your car so you can, well, drive it, but you should also take care of it to scare off thieves. A well maintained car is less appealing to car jackers because they assume that if you take good care of your car, then you most likely have an alarm and will notice it missing.
- Hide personal items Leaving things like candy wrappers or tissues around your interior isn’t tempting enough for thieves. However, if you leave something more valuable like a purse, backpack, or navigation system out in the open it’s assumed you have more items worth stealing in your vehicle. Therefore, you should always put valuables in your trunk prior to parking so that no one sees you storing things. If you don’t have a trunk space, storing items under seats will work as well.
- Make it hard to tow Surprisingly, some car thieves will go through the effort of towing your vehicle. Make it almost impossible for them to do so by parking it with wheels turned towards the curb and the emergency brake on. If you’re parking in a driveway and have rear wheel drive, back into the driveway. And vice versa for a car with front wheel drive.
Cost effective ways to secure your car:
- Stickers and LEDs Whether your car actually has an alarm system or not, you can always pretend it does to ward off thieves. Install security brand stickers on the driver’s window or windshield. You can also put a blinking LED light on the dashboard to symbolize a tracking device. Vehicles with these features are less likely to be stolen because burglars believe they’ll be caught more easily than in a car without an alarm or tracking device.
- Extra locks
- Steering wheel lock ($25-$100) While steering wheel clubs are easy to work around, it still acts as a deterrent for thieves. The presence of the club shows that you care about your vehicle and probably have a way to locate it if stolen. It’ll also be more time consuming for someone to remove it and for criminals timing is everything.
- Hood lock ($20-$50) This lock will block access to your car parts under the hood that thieves can sell for profit, like your battery.
- Tire lock ($80-$200) This lock wouldn’t be the best fit for someone who drives their vehicle frequently because they take a lot of time to put on and take off. However, they’re highly visible and make it impossible to move your car.
- Buy a manual Stick shifts aren’t extremely popular in America and therefore only a handful of people know how to operate them. If you know how to drive a manual transmission and enjoy it, considering buying one for the added protection. A criminal can’t steal your car if they don’t know how to drive it.
- Smart keys If you’re shopping for a vehicle, consider one that comes with a custom smart key. Smart keys hold computer chips that makes it impossible for any other key to start your car. They can’t be copied or modified.
- Car alarms ($150-$1,000) Avoid older car alarms because they are set off much more easily. You should also invest in a back up battery for your alarm because most experienced car thieves know how to unplug a car’s original alarm battery.
- Tracking device ($300-$1,400) Electronic tracking devices offer real time location of your vehicle using GPS. In most cases, vehicles are found within an hour of being stolen. They’re sold with company service contracts and therefore tend to be more expensive.
- Insurance coverage Unfortunately, sometimes your efforts are in vain and for whatever reason someone has chosen your vehicle to steal. The most important thing to do in this situation is to stay calm. Insurify has written a step by step list of procedures to go through if you believe your car has been stolen. Your auto insurance is there to help in times like these, so make sure you have the appropriate coverage. If you don’t have enough coverage or you’re hoping to switch providers, use a quote comparison site like Insurify.com. Insurify allows you to customize, build, compare, and purchase your policy online in minutes from the top providers. Professional and experienced agents are available for advice every step of the way!
- Comprehensive coverage, which covers damages not related to a collision such as theft.
- Homeowner's/renter’s insurance will replace the valuable items in your vehicle when it was stolen such as your cellphone or laptop.
- Rental car insurance would replace your rental car if it were stolen.