Gone In 60 Seconds
This past Sunday afternoon, I was standing in a convenience store when a lady ran inside in a panic. Her car had been stolen from right beside the gas pump when she came in to pay. This is the third time I have seen this happen in the past 5 years. One of the other times, I was standing in the same convenience store. As I listened to the understandably distraught woman on her cell phone, I asked myself, “What can a person do to protect themselves from car theft?” This week, our goal is to help you keep your ride in your possession.
Don’t leave your car running. It doesn’t matter if you think you will be in and out of the store in just a minute or two. It doesn’t matter if you think warming your car up in the driveway in the morning should be safe. Many car thieves are opportunistic and a running vehicle is a very easy target.
Lock your car and keep your keys with you. Nearly 20 percent of all stolen vehicles have their keys in them (either in the ignition or laying somewhere, like in a console or on a car seat). Half of the vehicles stolen are left unlocked. Even if you don’t leave your keys in the car, an unlocked vehicle makes for a more attractive target.
Close your car windows all the way when you park your car. Many of us have a tendency to crack our windows in the summer in order to keep the interior a couple of degrees cooler. A partially open window makes a car thief’s job much easier.
Park your car with the wheels turned and the emergency brake engaged. You might assume that stolen vehicles are broken into and driven away. This is frequently not the case. Oftentimes, thieves will tow the car away. Turning the wheels one direction or the other and setting the emergency brake makes the vehicle more difficult to tow.
Park your car in a well-lit area at night—preferably in a busy section of the parking lot. Your car is less likely to be stolen in a high traffic area (car thieves don’t like witnesses).
Theft prevention devices may not stop a determined car thief, but they do make the job more difficult. If you do not have an alarm on your car, you would do well to install one. Some electronic security systems include some pretty amazing features (including fuel shut-off). Other theft prevention devices worth considering are as follows:
- Steering wheel locks prevent the steering wheel from being turned.
- Wheel locks prevent the car from being moved.
- Gearshift locks prevent the transmission from shifting.
- Pedal locks prevent the use of the gas pedal.
Are you looking at your car thinking that it is probably not very high on any car thief’s list of priorities? The list of the most stolen cars in America might surprise you. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau study, the most stolen cars in 2008 were as follows:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 1999 Ford Taurus
10. 2002 Ford Explorer
You worked hard for your ride and we think you deserve to keep it.