This shouldn't come as a surprise. Most families use their cars for everything from going to work each day to running errands to taking kids to and from school. With how much we rely on our vehicles, it's safe to say that being without one would make day-to-day life difficult.
But it's not just a breakdown or flat tire that could leave you without a vehicle – every 41 seconds, a car is reported stolen in the US. What's more, the number of car thefts has also steadily steadily increased each year.
Fortunately, you can lower your risk of getting your car stolen by taking a few extra steps each day. Here are five of the top ways you can prevent car theft.
1. Never leave your car running without being in it
There are plenty of times when it's tempting to leave your car running, whether it's to let your car warm up, run a quick errand, or go back into your house to grab something you forgot.
While this may be convenient, there are a couple of reasons why leaving an engine idling is not a good idea. First of all, it’s an open invitation for a car thief. While most savvy thieves can steal a car whether the engine is running or not, a vehicle that is idling makes their job that much easier and faster—all they need to do is hop in and drive off.
There’s also a good chance it’s illegal. In 31 states, leaving your car idling (whether you’re inside or not) is against the law. This is mostly to protect the environment. Running vehicles emit gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air, which contributes to air pollution and smog.
Many people let their car idle because they’re afraid of wasting gas, but this is actually a myth. Restarting your car uses less gas than idling for 10 seconds or more, so make sure you turn your car off if you’re going to be waiting for more than 10 seconds.
Another myth is that restarting your car is bad for the battery. However, cars today are equipped with stronger, more efficient batteries that are designed to handle lots of starts and stops.
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2. Always lock your car
Most car thefts are crimes of opportunity. Car thieves look for cars that are easy targets that they can get into quickly.
Unlocked cars are easy targets because a thief doesn’t need to break a window or spend valuable time trying to pry open the lock or reach a lock button; they just open the door and get in. It’s also easy to inconspicuously check whether or not a car door is locked without drawing attention.
Many newer cars come equipped with remote keyless entry or remote start capabilities. These will lock automatically once the car no longer detects the signal from the key. This also prevents you from locking your keys in the car.
While the convenience factor is nice, the downside of this technology is that it makes it easier for a car thief to steal your car if you accidentally leave your keys in the car. While it may seem like a no-brainer to not leave your key or fob inside the car, it’s easy to do—and not uncommon. In fact, one report found that one in eight cars were stolen because the key fobs were left inside the car.
What about when your car is in the garage? Many people don’t lock their car when it’s in the garage, but doing so can help prevent car theft. This is especially true in warmer months, when people tend to leave their garage doors open.
If you always keep your car locked, make sure you keep your spare key hidden as well. In the event your home is ever burglarized, a spare car key in plain view can provide an easy getaway for a burglar.
3. Park in safe places
Safe parking is another important part of preventing car theft. Car thieves don’t want to draw attention to themselves or commit their crimes when there are dozens of witnesses or cameras to catch them in the act. They look for opportunities that allow them to be in and out as fast as possible and without being noticed.
How can you tell if it's safe to park your car in a certain area? Here are a few characteristics:
The parking lot or garage is monitored with cameras or security guards.
The area has a lot of people coming and going.
If you’re parking at home, putting your car in your garage with the garage door closed and the car doors locked, is the best way to prevent theft. But if you don’t have a garage or need to park your vehicle on the street, here are some safe places to look for:
A parking garage or car park. If you can find a gated parking garage or lot with security features, your car is less likely to get stolen. When parking in this type of lot, make sure to avoid parking right by the entrance or exit, which allows thieves a faster getaway.
Under street lights. Thieves prefer to work in the dark. When parking on the street, try and park near as much light as possible.
Near areas with extensive security features. Banks, jewelry stores, big box retail stores, and police or fire departments tend to have the most video surveillance systems in place. If you have to park in an unfamiliar area, look for this type of business and park your car as close as possible.
As in most cases of crime prevention, common sense goes a long way when it comes to parking. Avoid parking in dark, unfamiliar, or deserted areas and always lock your doors to help keep your car safe from thieves.
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4. Use a GPS-based vehicle protection service
One of the most effective ways to prevent car theft, and increase the likelihood that your car will be returned if it is stolen, is through a GPS-based protection service.
Cars with this type of security feature a tracking device that uses a global, satellite-based navigation system called Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS technology can pinpoint an exact location and is used in many industries locate a position, navigate from one location to another, or track an object or person. Real-world applications of GPS include roadside assistance services, which uses GPS to accurately locate where someone is calling from, or a fitness wearable that tracks the distance you run using GPS.
When a GPS vehicle tracking device is installed in your car, you can then use computer software or an app connected to the tracker to locate your car at any given time. If your car is ever stolen, this can help authorities recover your vehicle.
Protect Your Vehicles with Vivint Car Guard
While GPS devices can help you locate your car, can they actually help you prevent car theft? If you have the Vivint Car Guard, they can.
The Vivint Car Guard is an award-winning app-based vehicle protection service that lets you protect both your car and your home with just one app. It integrates with your smart home and provides you with vehicle location tracking, tamper alerts, and car diagnostics.
The device installs easily into the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II), which comes standard in most cars. You can access the GPS feature via the Vivint Smart Home app and know where your car is at all times, whether it’s parked or moving.
Vivint Car Guard goes beyond just tracking, though. It takes a preventative measure to car theft with its tamper alert feature. If your car is bumped, towed, or a break-in is attempted, you’ll immediately be alerted on your phone.
When integrated with your Vivint Smart Home system, the Vivint Car Guard helps protect your car in other ways as well. You can set up your smart home’s lights, sensors, locks, and cameras to connect with Car Guard.
For example, let’s say your car is parked in the driveway and a car thief attempts to break in. The tamper alert then triggers your home’s outdoor lighting and outdoor camera’s auto-record feature. It also sends you a notification on your phone. This sudden attention sends the car thief running and also gives you the info you need to inform police about a potential car thief in your area.
5. Install high quality outdoor security cameras
When it comes to protection for your home and vehicle, outdoor security cameras are another effective tool for preventing theft.
We already know that burglars don’t like to call attention to themselves, and they certainly don’t want any footage that can connect them to a crime. One study found that 83% of burglars check first for surveillance cameras before attempting to break into a home.
Outdoor cameras are also important for preventing car theft because many people, even those who have garages, park their cars on the street or in the driveway. In fact, this survey found that 25% of people with a two-car garage don’t park their cars in the driveway at all, while another found that 30% only park one car in the garage.
When your car isn’t parked in the garage, it isn’t covered under the same protections that your home security system offers, like smart locks, burglary detection, and an alarm. However, an outdoor camera can help prevent crime in a number of useful ways, including:
By offering a visual deterrent. When a would-be burglar sees a surveillance camera, the risk of getting caught usually makes them move along.
By providing valuable footage to law enforcement. Police departments are more likely to capture thieves if they can identify who they’re looking for.
When choosing an outdoor camera to help prevent car theft or vandalism, look for features that include:
High resolution for a clear picture. A security camera with blurry, faded images won’t do much good when it comes time to identify a thief. Choose a camera with 1080p HD resolution for the best possible video quality.
Night vision. Although car thefts can take place any time of the day or night, they tend to occur most often at night, especially after car owners are fast asleep in the house. That’s why night vision is an important feature to look for in an outdoor camera.
Auto-recording. Cameras with auto-recording features can sense motion and will begin recording automatically, so you don’t have to sift through hours of footage to find what you need.
Wide-angle lens. You want to be able to capture as much of your yard or driveway as possible, so a wide-angle lens with a large field of view is a must-have.
The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro includes all of these features, plus more, making it the best choice for an outdoor surveillance camera. Plus, it integrates with the Vivint Car Guard to provide your home and vehicle with the best protection available.
Car theft happens all over the country every day, but it doesn't have to happen to you. If there's one device that can help protect your car –whether it's from theft, vandalism, or a break-in— better than any other, it's Vivint Car Guard.
See for yourself how Vivint Car Guard can help keep your car safe and sound by integrating with a Vivint Smart Home. Contact our Smart Home Pros today at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation.
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Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 equipment purchase and applicable services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. Equipment purchase may be financed subject to an agreement with one of Vivint’s financing partners. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply. New Vivint Customers only.
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Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval. Financing options require a service agreement coterminous with applicable financing agreement. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront. Additional equipment may be purchased and financed.
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