Over one million cars are stolen in the United States every year. Auto theft is not just an inconvenience, it is costly. Even if you are covered by insurance, a stolen car may result in lost wages, rental car costs, and the payment of an insurance deductible as well as the cost of paying higher car insurance premiums.
While they make the news more often, car hijackings only account for about 3% of stolen vehicles. Most often, cars are stolen when they are empty and parked. Types of vehicles most likely targeted vary from region to region. It is not just newer cars that are at risk – many older cars are attractive targets for their parts.
Listed below are five steps you can take to reduce the risk of having your car stolen and to avoid paying higher car insurance rates:
Step 1 – Use common sense. Be cognizant of your surroundings. When parking your car, look for a well-lighted area. Do not leave important papers, such as bank statements, wallets or purses in the vehicle. Make sure the windows are rolled up and the doors are locked. Never leave an extra set of keys in the vehicle and never leave your car while it's running.
Step 2 – Take your vehicle registration or title with you. It is much easier for a thief to dispose of the car if he has the registration or title.
Step 3 – Use your garage. Lock the car, and then lock the garage. If you do not have a garage, park your car in a well-lighted place. For driveway parking, park your car forward in the driveway if it is front wheel drive and back it in if it is rear wheel drive. This makes the vehicle more difficult to tow.
Step 4 – If your vehicle has an alarm, use it.
Step 5 – Etch the VIN (vehicle identification number) on each window. Etching makes the vehicle less attractive to thieves and identifies the car if stolen.
In addition to the steps above, a variety of anti-theft options are available to reduce the chances of car theft and aid in vehicle recovery. In many cases, use of anti-theft devices will reduce your car insurance premiums.
Some of the more popular anti-theft options include steering wheel locks, wheel locks, engine disablers, ignition cut-offs, and electronic recovery systems.
Nation-wide, a car is stolen every 29 seconds. The risk of higher car insurance rates, identity theft, and paying unexpected costs involved in vehicle recovery or loss may be greatly reduced by using common sense and taking the appropriate measures to ensure that your vehicle is as theft-proof as possible.