Experts say that in the United States a car is stolen every 43 seconds. There are more that are broken into just so the criminals can get the stuff inside – your stuff. In the last segment I shared with you the widespread impact of car theft. In this segment we’re going to share some tips for reducing your risks of having your car stolen or broken into – and we’re getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here are some tips from your friendly neighborhood car thieves.
20 seconds is all it takes
One former car thief claims that when he was “in the business” he would allot himself 20 seconds to get in and get what he wanted from the vehicle. Usually it was less than that. So, leaving your car unlocked or, worse, running, while you run in the store, warm up your car in the morning, or run in to pick up your take-out, is a really bad idea. Many thieves will tell you that you should not leave your keys in the car while you are getting fuel. Basically, if you aren’t behind the wheel, have your keys on your person.
Appearance is everything
If a thief passed by your car and peeked in, what would they see? Nothing would be the right answer. You don’t want to leave anything out that would make them want to break in or think there might be something of value in your car. Take the change out of the console – even if it’s just a couple of quarters. Put bags, purses, briefcases, and backpacks in the trunk. Don’t leave anything visible – not even clothing, jackets, or shoes.
Stay in the light
Most thieves will avoid cars parked in well-lit areas. They are just not worth the risk, especially when there are plenty of cars parked in the dark. Thieves love the cover of darkness and shadows. Do cars get stolen or broken into during the day? Of course they do, but keeping them in the light does lessen your chances.
Even the appearance of an alarm works
Thieves don’t like alarms so vehicles that have them (or look like they have them) will deter many would be thieves. Even a blinking light that mounts on the dash and looks like the car has an alarm can help. Often the thief will just move on to vehicles that are easier.
Think leaving your windows cracked is safe? Think again
All a thief has to be able to do is get his fingers in the window – that’s about an inch or less. Then he rocks the window until he gets it off the track, pushed it down far enough to get his arm in, then reaches in and unlocks the door. Leaving your windows cracked is not a good idea at all. It makes your car an easy target.
Find out if you have a valet key – and get it out of your car
If a key is in the car when someone steals it, then it isn’t a felony. It is called joyriding and that is a misdemeanor. Huge difference. Thing is, many people have keys in their car and don’t even know it. Some cars come with a valet key. This key will open the door and start the car – things a valet would need access to on a car. The key does not open the trunk or glove box. Check your owner’s manual or dealer to find out if you have a valet key (and where it is located). Then get control of it.
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