Car theft is a frustrating occurrence no vehicle owner should have to deal with. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more common. Car theft is on the rise faster than ever with around a 16.5% increase in 2021 compared to 2019. The global pandemic didn’t help the situation either. With the time spent at home toward the beginning of the pandemic, many people worked from home, which meant they weren’t driving to work. Owners may not have known their car was broken into right away if they didn’t move or get into their cars for days or weeks on end, making them prime targets for criminal acts.
Location is another factor in your risk of theft. According to the FBI, metropolitan areas are at a significantly higher risk for car thefts, seeing more than 600,000 thefts in 2019. Cities outside of metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas saw around 29,000 and 30,000 thefts respectively. Auto theft prevention is important and should be followed by everyone regardless of where they live.
Car thieves steal everything from personal belongings and car parts to the car itself. Take precautions like taking your keys out of your vehicle whenever you aren’t in it, locking your doors or removing all valuables from your car to reduce the risk of theft and claims on your auto insurance.
Preventing the less obvious thefts can be trickier, but we’re here to guide you through it with these helpful tips:
Don’t advertise on your car with stickers
Decal stickers can be seen as cute ways of self-expression and pride in your family or business. However, they make you an easier target for thieves. A sticker with your HVAC company’s logo on it could lead criminals to assume you have tools and valuable materials in your vehicle. A stick figure family car decal with one adult and three kids could show criminals you’re a single parent with three young children, possibly making you an easier target for theft. You may be focused on helping your kids inside the house rather than locking your car and thieves can take advantage of that.
Keep doors locked and windows up
Lock up your vehicle’s doors and roll up your windows, especially when you aren’t in the car. When you’re driving, when you’re parked and when you’re out of the car (even for a moment) lock up. Keeping your doors secured and your windows up is the easiest way to keep someone out of your car.
Keep photocopies of your vehicle registration
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to keep your vehicle registration in your vehicle. Your vehicle registration displays personal information like your home address, making it simple for thieves to know where you live. For example, someone could break into your car at work and see you have a garage door opener. They look at your vehicle registration that’s most likely in your glove box and find your address. This could lead to both your car and home being vandalized and robbed.
Storing photos of your registration on your phone or somewhere safely on your person can help you avoid unintentionally sharing that personal information if your vehicle is broken into. In addition, law enforcement usually accepts photos of your vehicle’s registration and insurance should you be pulled over for a traffic violation.
Identity theft is another concern for many drivers. Instead of stealing physical objects, thieves could take the basic information on your registration and use it to apply for loans, commit insurance fraud, open credit card accounts and more. Adding identity theft protection to your auto insurance plan could protect you from the havoc identity thieves cause.
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Install a GPS tracker
Tracking your car may be one of your only hopes to get your vehicle back in the event of a car theft. Car thieves are savvier than ever and can make a car untraceable. Installing a GPS tracker can alert you, the police or a monitoring service where your vehicle is located.
Most security and GPS tracking systems come with a warning sticker to display for deterring thieves. They may rethink their decision to steal your car once they learn you have a tracking system somewhere in your vehicle.
Park in secure locations
Whenever you’re driving somewhere, it’s a good practice to park in well-lit and secure areas, especially at night. Parking in an area with cameras and lights, such as a parking garage, could prevent the headache of experiencing car theft. If it does happen, however, it may help knowing that it was most likely caught on camera.
Don’t leave your car unattended while it’s running
If you live in the Midwest, you know how cold the winters can be. It may be tempting to turn on your car and leave it running to warm it up, but you leave yourself vulnerable to car theft. It wastes fuel and creates unnecessary pollution. In addition, a 2019 poll showed that four in 10 US consumers have turned their car on and left it unattended and one in 10 experienced car theft because of it.
Take extra security measures
One of the most sought-after car parts among car thieves is the Catalytic Converter. The metal within the anti-pollution car part can sell for upwards of $200 and cost over $1K to be replaced. Installing anti-theft devices on valuable car parts like this one is the best attempt to avoid car theft.
There are many safety measures you can take to prevent car thefts in addition to tips for protecting yourself from the effects of a car theft. Speak to your local, independent Grange agent to help you find the right protection during every chapter of your life and provide quality coverage, tips and advice to fit your needs.
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