It takes a thief as little as 10 seconds to steal a car, and even much less to take the valuables you leave in it. Most car break-ins are preventable, and by taking a few simple and inexpensive measures, you help safeguard your property from thieves. Here are some basic tips:
- Close all windows and the sunroof; lock the doors of your car and turn on your car alarm when your car is unattended, even for less than a minute.
- Keep your car keys out of sight, even at home, since many cars tend to get stolen after a house break in.
- Park your car in a well-lit area, possibly within view of CCTV cameras, especially when leaving your car for a long time, like overnight.
- Park your car in the garage and lock it with a secure lock
- Avoid leaving valuables like cash, a laptop, a mobile phone, credit cards, your jacket, or even a nice hand bag in the car where these items will be visible. If you must leave your possessions behind, keep them in the trunk of your car.
- Never leave items or material in your car that say your home address.
- Keep your vehicle documents well hidden at home.
- Consider installing an electronic engine immobiliser to stop your vehicle from starting. Get it professionally installed and have the switch placed in a discrete and concealed spot.
- Get an alarm system to deter thieves from breaking into your car or stealing it.
- Consider etching your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto your windscreen, side mirrors, windows, headlights, and tail lights to deter thieves from stealing them.
- Property mark the equipment in the car, such as satellite navigation systems and stereos, with your postal code.
- Use a steering lock, also referred to as a j-bar, collar, or club to deter thieves from even breaking into your car. The device locks to the steering wheel, brake, or column, preventing the wheel from being steered more than a few degrees.
- Approach your vehicle with the key in hand. Look around and inside before opening the door.
- When driving, keep the car doors locked and the windows rolled up.
- Be alert at gas stations, shopping malls, ATMs, intersections, and retail stores – as carjackers frequent these spots.
Finally, trust your instincts. If you spot suspicious activity or feel uneasy about leaving your car somewhere, find another parking spot.