Follow these tips to reduce your chances of being the victim of auto theft.
1. Always Take Your Keys. Never leave them in the car. Nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.
2. Always Lock Your Car. Approximately 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
3. Never Hide A Second Set of Key In Your Car. Extra keys can easily be found if a car thief takes time to look.
4. Park in Well-lighted Areas. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.
5. Park in Attended Lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
6. If you park in an attended lot, leave only the ignition/door key. If your trunk and glovebox use the same key as the door, have one of them changed. don’t give the attendant easy access to your glovebox and trunk. Upon returning, check the tires, spare and battery to insure they are the same as those you had when you parked.
7. Never leave your car running,even if you will only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM’s, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in some states.
8. Completely close your car windows when parking. Don’t make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.
9. Don’t Leave Valuables in Plain View. Don’t make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
10. Park with With Your Wheels Turned towards the curb. Make your car tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.
11. If Your Vehicle is Rear-Wheel Drive, Back Into Your Driveway. Front-wheel drive vehicles should be parked front end first. On four-wheel drive vehicles the rear wheels sometimes lock, making them difficult to tow.
12. Always Use Your Emergency Brake When Parking. In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your car harder to tow.
13. If You Have a Garage, Use It. If you have a garage, take the time to use it rather than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.
14. When Parking in a Garage, Lock the Garage Door and Your Vehicle. By locking both the garage and vehicle doors, the chances of deterring a thief greatly improve.
15. Don’t Leave the Registration or Title in Your Car. A car thief will use these to sell your stolen car. File the title at your home or office, and carry registration in your purse or wallet.
16. Disable Your Vehicle When Leaving it Unattended for an Extended Period. Remove the electronic ignition fuse, coil wire, rotor distributor, or otherwise disable your vehicle anytime thieves may have extended access to it.
17. Replace “T” shaped Door Locks With Straight Locks. Some vehicle doors have lock assemblies at window level that flare out in a knob or “T’ shape. A thief can use various tools to gain access inside the vehicle, grab and pull the lock. Straight locks prevent this.
18. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Stolen cars/parts are more easily traced when vehicle VIN numbers have been etched on car windows and major parts. Etched VINs and can assist police in identifying your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
19. Engrave Expensive Accessories. Engrave personal I.D. numbers on car stereos, cellular phones, etc., so the thief will have difficulty disposing of them. Consider using IDstickers on all your property.
20. Drop Business Cards, Address Labels, or Other I.D. Inside Vehicle Doors. Car thieves usually alter vehicle identification numbers. By marking your vehicle a much as possible, you assist police in identifying your car.
21. Ignition Kill Switch. Splice an inexpensive toggle switch into your ignition wire or to your starter. The trick is hiding the switch well. Keypads, pressure pads and more expensive “Immobilizes” and “Passkeys” can also be used.
22. Fuel Kill Switch. The valve that halts the fuel supply is closed.
23. Visible Steering Wheel Lock. Prevents the steering wheel from being turned.
24. Floorboard Locks. Devices that disable the gas or brake pedal.
25. Gearshift Locks. Disables shifting of the transmission.
26. Tire/Wheel Locks. Prevents the vehicle from moving.
27. Hood Locks. Prevents the thief from gaining access to your security system and battery.
28. Armored Collar Around the Steering Column. Protects the column and ignition.
29. Alarms. Loud warnings sound when doors/hood/trunk are opened. Optional sensors include glass breakage, motion, tampering and towing. Panic buttons, back-up batteries, flashing parking lights or headlights, and automatic engine disable features are also recommended.
30. Vehicle Tracking. Transmitter hidden in car enables police to track car. Vehicle IDstickers enable police and citizens to identify stolen cars.
31. The good folks at Vandergriff Toyota Arlington remind you to be suspicious of any deal that sounds too good to be true.
32. When buying from a private individual, make sure the title and registration match the name and address of the person selling the car.
33. Be cautious of a seller with no fixed address of employment or phone number.
34. Ask the seller for references about past financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company, or agent.
35. Ensure the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the automobile dash is present, secure, and has no loose rivets.
36. Ensure that the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be original factory numbers.
37. Ensure the VIN plate rivets are original. All 1970 and newer automobiles produced in North America have stainless steel “rosette” rivets with six petals and a hole inside the middle. They are difficult to scratch with a knife.
38. Thieves may remove the VIN plate and replace it with one from a similar wrecked vehicle. If in doubt about plate authenticity,check with a new car dealer who handles the same model or contact a law enforcement agency.
39. The VIN on the dash must match the vin on the registration, title and federal safety inspection sticker on the drivers door.
40. If the VIN plate is scratched, bent or missing rivets, tampering may have occurred.
41. Make sure the federal safety inspection sticker, located on the driver’s door or door jamb, is securely in place and none of the numbers appear to be tampered with.
42. Use special license plate locking screws to make it hard for thieves to remove your license plate during a robbery.
43. An excessively loose ignition switch may indicate tampering. Check the switch for chisel or pull marks.
44. Be wary of a fresh paint job on a newer vehicle. This may indicate an attempt to change the car’s identity.
45. Check the inspection and license plate stickers to be sure they are current and issued by the same state.
46. If the seller provides you with only re-made keys, not original manufacturer’s keys, for a newer model car, be suspicious.
47. Titles and registrations are frequently counterfeited. Therefore, demand the title before paying, and make sure it matches the registration. By completing all paperwork at the time of sale, you avoid giving the thief extra time to obtain fraudulent documents.
48. Question the seller if the registration was recently issued on an older vehicle.
49. Compare the engine identification numbers with all other numbers to ensure a match.
50. Be cautious of new license plates on an old car, or new plate bolts on an older plate
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Top 10 Cities for Car Theft in 20101. Fresno, Calif.
2. Modesto, Calif.
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
4. Spokane, Wash.
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
6. Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, Calif.
7. Stockton, Calif.
8. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
10. Yakima, Wash.