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10 Ways You Can Prevent Car Theft

Mar 28, 2023|

In the United States, someone steals a car every 36 seconds. That equates to over 880,000 stolen cars every year.

With the average price of a vehicle coming in just under $50,000 for new cars and $28,000 for used cars, most people can’t afford not to protect their cars.

Luckily, there is plenty you can do to keep your car safe from theft. Read on to find out our top tips for protecting your car.

Car in driveway watched over by the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

Why your car is at risk

Car theft and vehicle break-ins are more prevalent now than ever. Following the pandemic, car thefts across the country increased a staggering 17% since 2019’s pre-pandemic rates. There are a number of causes experts attribute to this surge, including:

  • Mandatory shutdowns during Covid meant many cars were left parked unattended. People who had to park on the street or in parking garages were particularly prone to theft.
  • Used car values also reached astronomical levels during Covid and still have not quite returned to normal; the average used car price now is up 42% in the past 2 years, before the pandemic hit. This makes your car much more valuable to thieves.
  • Catalytic converter theft is also big business for thieves, who cut them out of your car and sell them. This type of theft has risen over 1,000% in the past few years.
  • Car break-ins have seen a surge as well, with some cities reporting an increase of over 200% in just two years.

Economic inflation, unemployment, and simply an increase in opportunity have all been cited as reasons for a major uptick in crimes against vehicles.

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How to prevent car theft and break-ins

Even with thefts and break-ins on the rise, you don’t have to become a statistic. These top 10 tips will help you protect your car no matter where you are.

1. Don’t leave your keys in the car

Let’s start with the easiest and most obvious way to avoid car theft — don’t leave your keys in the car.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, over 200 cars are stolen each day because the owners left their key fobs inside the car. As most new car models today use push button technology to start and turn off the vehicle, not having to turn a key in the ignition means it’s easy to just turn off the car and go — and leave the key fob in the cupholder or on the seat.

What’s more, most vehicles won’t lock if they sense the key fob in the car, making it easy and fast for a car thief to hop into your car and drive away without having to do any work.

2. Lock your doors

Another straightforward tip that’s worth mentioning is to lock your doors. Many crimes are crimes of opportunity, and car theft is no exception. In fact, police estimate that 90% of car break-ins are unlocked vehicles. Thieves looking to quickly get in and out often go through parking lots or driveways checking car doors and helping themselves to whatever is inside — but only if the doors are unlocked.

Locking up every time you leave your car is a good habit to get into and simple way to protect your car.

3. Don’t leave your valuable items in plain view

A purse or computer bag, cell phone, wad of cash, and even bottle of prescription pills are all a thief needs to see for motivation. Anything of value is attractive to a thief, so make sure your valuables are either with you, locked in the trunk, or at least hidden from view in the back seat.

Lurker looking inside a car's window at night.

4. Turn your steering wheel towards the curb

Here’s one your driver’s ed instructor never taught you: turn your car’s steering wheel towards the curb when you park. This unique but simple way to help prevent vehicle theft keeps the car’s wheels turned towards the curb, a building, or another car, requiring a bit of maneuvering and extra time to get out, making it harder for the thief to make a quick getaway.

This is especially effective when combined with other theft deterrents, such as an audible alarm or vehicle tracking device.

The same can be said for backing into parking spaces. Sure, it makes it easier to leave the parking spot, but if it’s easy for you, it’s easier for a car thief, too.

5. Park in well-lit areas

No one committing a crime, whether it’s professional thieves or amateurs—want to call attention to themselves. Parking in well-lit areas where it’s easy to spot someone is another great way to help discourage anyone looking to break into or steal cars.

6. Secure your driveway and garage

Parking at home doesn’t mean you’re immune to car theft. In fact, the majority of car thefts happen in the vehicle owner’s driveway or on the street in front of their home. That’s why it’s important to keep your driveway and garage secure. Keep your driveway well-lit, and take steps to make sure your garage door is always closed. (Garage Door Control, for example, will notify you if your garage door is left open or whenever it opens, allowing you to close it right from your smartphone.)

7. Install vehicle anti-theft devices

There are many different devices on the market that help prevent stolen vehicles and break-ins. A steering wheel lock, vehicle immobilizer, and loud car alarms are all effective theft prevention measures. Many vehicle insurance companies also offer discounts on your car insurance if you install an alarm system or other devices for your vehicle.

8. Use security cameras at home

If you often park in your driveway, a good outdoor security camera also works well to deter car theft. Vivint’s Outdoor Camera Pro takes security cameras up a notch with features that proactively prevent crime. It uses proprietary technology to recognize lurkers on your property, and then plays an audible tone and illuminates an LED ring around the camera, letting thieves know they’ve been spotted—and sending them running.

9. Install a tracking system

With a vehicle tracking system that uses GPS, you’ll always be able to pinpoint the location of your car. This can help law enforcement track down your car quickly if it’s ever stolen. Vivint’s Car Guard also notifies you on your cell phone if your car is bumped or moved, so you can act quickly in the event you’re being towed or your car is being broken into.

10. Use common sense

Using common sense and staying alert can help you prevent the majority of car thefts, break-ins, and other crimes. Don’t leave your car running unattended, keep your car doors locked while driving to prevent carjackers from getting into your vehicle, and making it a habit to be aware of your surroundings will help protect both you and your vehicle.

Car in driveway watched over by the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

How car guard protects your car

Car Guard is a small device that plugs directly into your car’s OBD-II port, which is located right under the steering wheel. Car Guard protects your car in a number of ways, including:

  • Alerting you immediately if your car is bumped, towed, or otherwise tampered with.
  • Provides accurate tracking, so you always know where your vehicle is.
  • Vehicle status, so you know if your car is parked or on the move.

In addition, it also provides car diagnostics, so you can identify specific issues that trigger your “check engine” light, and trip statistics, so you know average speeds, start and stop times, and driving habits like harsh braking.

Integrating car guard with Outdoor Camera Pro

Car Guard integrates seamlessly with your Vivint Smart Home System, allowing you to extend the protection of your home’s security system to your vehicles as well. Together, Car Guard and the Outdoor Camera Pro are the perfect combination to keep your home and car secure.

Here’s how they work together: Let’s say you parked your car in the driveway for the night. A thief sees your unattended vehicle and lights off in the house and decides to break-in. As he approaches the car, your Outdoor Camera Pro spots him and kicks into gear. As the thief tries your door handles to see if the car is locked, the camera identifies him as a lurker, playing a loud tone and letting him know he’s been spotted. At the same time, you receive a “Tamper Alert” notification on your phone, so you know someone is by your car. The camera sends the thief running. The next day, you give the camera’s crystal clear footage to the police department, so they can know a burglar is on the loose.

Car thief attempts to steal a car but is scared away by the Vivint Outdoor Camera and Smart Deter.

Secure your car and home today

Your vehicle is an important part of your life — it gets you to and from work, school, and errands and transports your most precious cargo. Let Vivint help you protect it day and night.

Contact our Smart Home Pros at 855.822.1220 today to learn more.

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