Many of us across the US are staying at home during coronavirus to keep our family and friends safe. But while we’re at home, thieves are out there more productive than ever. Most major cities across the U.S. are reporting an uptick in car thefts since the start of the pandemic, reports CNN. New York has seen a 53% increase in auto thefts; Seattle has received 300 additional reports; LA reports an 11.3% increase in stolen cars; and the Bay Area is particularly experiencing more stolen tires.
The conditions of a stay-at-home pandemic are ideal for a lot of car thieves. People are only driving when necessary, so their cars are unattended for a longer period of time. That means there’s less of a risk of getting caught in the action for thieves breaking in. Plus, by the time the owner notices their car is missing, the thief is long gone.
(Of course, all crime in public places has decreased, since there are significantly fewer people in these areas. That means car thieves aren’t able to hit public parking lots as frequently, which is where a lot of car thefts happen.)
Still, the number of carjackings is notably and particularly high during coronavirus. Here are some tips on how to protect your car and assets from theft during his unusual season.
You’ll want to keep following these tips post-quarantine to continue to protect yourself moving forward. Although theft is and always will be present, there are safeguards you can take to minimize and defend yourself from loss.
11 Tips to Avoid Car Theft During Coronavirus
1. Lock your doors.
It seems simple, but neglecting to lock your car doors is the number one cause of theft. Car thieves will always go for the easy target, and an unlocked car means they can slip in undetected. They also assume that if you weren’t aware enough to lock your doors, you probably don’t have other alarm systems or theft blockages. Most professional thieves don’t need a key to start your car, so once they’re in, it’s theirs for the taking.
Just simply locking your doors and making it harder to break in without making noise can deter a lot of thieves.
2. Remove keys from the vehicle.
Again, don’t make it easy for thieves to steal your car. If a thief sees the key sitting in your cup holder, that’s the first car they’ll go for. Leaving the key in the car likely means both the doors are unlocked and they can easily drive away without any additional work. Even if you lock the doors with another key, they can just break a window and drive off in seconds.
Don’t leave your keys in the car, and don’t put a “spare” key in the glove box. Even if your car is parked in your garage, it’s best to leave your keys in your home away from the car itself.
3. Keep your car in the garage.
A garage is the safest place for your car. If you have a garage, that’s where your car should be. Most car thieves won’t take the risk of trying to break into the garage and then also try to break into the car. Plus, unless they’re staking you out, they won’t even know if your car is in the garage or not. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind for most thieves.
So, clean out the garage of all the boxes and extra equipment that you never use. Make room for your car, so you can take care of one of your most expensive assets.
If you don’t have a garage…
Park in a well-lit area. The closer you can park to your house, the better. We also recommend installing a motion-detection light outside your house, close to where you park your car. Just a light flipping on when a thief walks by can deter them from trying to steal your vehicle.
4. Check on your car.
If possible, park your car where you can see it. Even if you’re not using your car, check in on it in the morning and at night (at the very least). The faster you can notice a stolen car, the faster the cops can catch the bad guy. Plus, if it’s closer to your home or in eye-shot, there’s a lower risk of thieves sneaking by undetected.
5. Close the windows.
What’s the rule? Make your car unattractive to thieves. If your windows are down, thieves can just stick their hand in, unlock it, and set off with your car. Roll your windows up all the way, even if it’s parked in your garage. Closing your windows won’t stop a determined thief, but it will stop a lazy one!
6. Install anti-theft device.
There are a number of available anti-theft devices for cars. We recommend installing an audible alarm system that emits a loud noise if someone tries to enter the vehicle while the alarm is on. This alarm is often enough to scare off a car thief. (Interestingly, though, most people don’t come running to a car alarm—even if it’s their own. So the alarm itself isn’t always enough, especially if the thief knows how to disable the sound.)
You can also purchase a steeling wheel lock. This is a visible sign that you’ve taken steps to protect your vehicle, which thieves don’t want to see. Some car owners find it a hassle to use, but you’ll want to at least use it when your car is left alone for long periods of time (like during quarantine).
Make sure you have a technician install any mechanical devices in your car. These are delicate and intricate, so they’re often too challenging for DIYers without experience.
7. Install a vehicle immobilizer.
A lot of thieves can hotwire your car, meaning they can start it without the key. A vehicle immobilizer system disables the engine, so it can’t start without the correct transponder key.
You can also use an ignition cut-off system. This kind of kill switch disrupts the flow of electricity to electrical systems in the car, so the vehicle can’t start unless the switch is flicked on. Keep the kill switch hidden out of sight, like under the dashboard. A thief will get frustrated enough and won’t look too long for the switch, so they’ll likely move on to another car.
Again, you’ll want a technician or mechanic to install these to avoid damaging your car.
8. Install a tracking system.
You can install a GPS tracking system that will emit and track your car’s location remotely. If your car is stolen, you can contact the monitoring service and they can look up the most recent locations of your car. This can help the police recover your car quickly, before damage or total loss.
A lot of car brands have started installing these tracking systems in their cars. If yours doesn’t have one, you may want to look into CarLock as an option.
9. Never leave valuables in the car.
Valuables hanging out on the seats or floors of your car are enticing to thieves. If they see an iPad or expensive purse in the car, they won’t hesitate to break the window and grab your goodies. This can put you at a loss of your valuables, and they will likely also damage your car in the process.
Always take your possessions with you. At the very least, hide them so they’re not intriguing to a passing by criminal.
10. Hide the title.
Often times, thieves will get pulled over right after they steal the car. But they sometimes get away if they’re able to show the title to the police officer who pulls them over. By the time the officer finds out the car is stolen, the thief could be off again.
So hide the title where only the owners or drivers of the car know. Don’t put it in the glove box (where everyone else keeps it). If the thief can’t find the title while they’re pulled over, the police officer will be more suspicious and likely catch him sooner.
11. Get your VIN etched on the windows.
The car’s VIN is how the police can track and identify your car. It also allows other legitimate sellers to see the history of your car (aka that it’s stolen). No one will want to buy or be in possession of a car that has a VIN associated with theft.
So, make sure that VIN is really, really in your car. Get your VIN number etched in all the windows. This can help the police catch the bad guy by having access to the VIN number right when they see your car.
It also will deter thieves in the first place. They know that the VIN is what will get them caught. They don’t want to have to put money into the car to replace the windows that have the “stolen” VIN on it. If they see the VIN etched into the windows, they’ll likely pass on your car.
12. Install a dash cam.
Dash cams can record your driving on the road to prevent you from being falsely accused of an accident. (This is great for liability purposes.)
They can also record the inside of your car to capture any thieves on camera. A lot of advanced dash cams offer night vision and audio, and you can access the feed wirelessly. This means you can get live updates and recorded footage, so you can see thieves as they’re attempting to steal your vehicle.
Most thieves won’t even try to steal a car if they see a video camera through the window. They don’t want to risk their faces getting caught on film. So even as a deterrent, it’s worth the investment!
Bonus: Save on your insurance.
Taking a few precautionary measures can help protect your car from theft, especially during uncertain times like the pandemic. As a bonus, these same steps may also help you save on your auto insurance premiums, too. Auto safety features help minimize your car’s risk of theft and damage; and insurance carriers are always looking for the lowest possible risk.
Talk to a licensed InsuraMatch insurance advisor about finding the right auto insurance to protect your car against theft—and to help you find safety discounts that will lower your premium. Our licensed agents will help you find the perfect coverage to protect you, your car, and your family during even the most uncertain times.
Compare quotes and save by calling one of our expert insurance advisors today at (844) 300-3364!
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