Since the start of the pandemic, there’s been a significant increase in auto theft and break-ins. In 2020 alone, there were 880,595 vehicle thefts nationwide (approximately one vehicle stolen every 36 seconds), up from 794,019 in 2019. According to David Glawe, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there are several reasons for this uptick: the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the realignment of law enforcement, and depleted social programs—but the most significant factor is owner complacency.
Although it’s not possible to prevent all car thefts and break-ins, there are several easy steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim. Here are some proactive tips to help you avoid auto theft in Santa Rosa Ca and beyond.
Keep Your Vehicle Secure
Whenever you’re not in your vehicle—whether it’s in your driveway or at the store, you should always make sure it’s secure. Roll up your windows, close your sunroof, lock your doors, and take the keys or key fob with you. Thieves are often on the lookout for vehicles that have easy entry, so they can strike quickly and keep a low profile. If a would-be thief can’t quickly gain entry to your car, there’s a good chance they’ll just move on. Some people keep a spare key in their glove box, but many thieves know to look there; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends taking all keys with you when you leave your car. Even though it’s a pain to get locked out of your vehicle, it’s less of a hassle than having your car stolen!
Park in Well-Lit Areas Near Security Cameras
Be cautious about where you’re parking your car. Whenever possible, it’s best to park in a secure garage that doesn’t have public access, such as your own garage or a company garage that requires a fob to access. If you have to park outside, park in well-lit areas to deter thieves. If you see a security camera nearby, try to park in its view; sometimes, just the idea of being caught on camera can be enough to make thieves decide to move on.
Always Hide Your Valuables
Although it seems like common sense, many people have their cars broken into because they left valuables in plain sight while running errands, pumping gas, or even parking in their driveways. If it’s not something you need, leave it at home. Valuables like cell phones, wallets, purses, shopping bags, backpacks, luggage, laptop bags, gifts, and portable media players should always be taken with you or locked inside the glove compartment, center console, or trunk. If you have a cargo area in your truck or SUV, you may also want to consider using a cargo cover.
If Your Car is Running, Don’t Leave It Unattended
Leaving your car running and unattended puts your car at greater risk of theft. Car thieves will often keep an eye out for unattended vehicles at places where drivers think they’ll only be gone for a moment, like gas stations, post offices, and convenience stores—or even warming up their car in the driveway. When you’re not driving, turn off the engine and make sure your vehicle is secure, even if you’re making a quick stop.
Use a Car Alarm or Other Anti-Theft Devices
These days, many new models come with a built-in alarm system that’s triggered by someone opening the car door or attempting to run the car while the alarm is activated. Since most thieves like to stay as low-profile as possible, the sound of the alarm can be an excellent deterrent. If your car doesn’t have an alarm, consider having an aftermarket alarm installed. Visible anti-theft devices, like steering wheel locks, VIN number window etching, or the alarm system’s flashing light, may also deter thieves looking for a quick and easy target.
Consider a Vehicle Immobilizer
Most cars manufactured in the last 20 years have a built-in car immobilizer system, which prevents thieves from being able to hot-wire a vehicle. You can find out if your car has an immobilizer by checking your owner’s manual—or you can visit your regular mechanic and they should be able to tell you. If you don’t have an immobilizer, consider installing one.
Install a Tracking System
While a tracking system won’t prevent theft, it can help you recover your stolen car faster. Tracking system devices are often GPS and cellular-based, and you can generally access the information on your smartphone. As a bonus, a tracking system can also help you find your car easier in the parking lot!
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When parking your car, always be aware of your surroundings. If you see anything suspicious, such as a person who looks like they’re casing vehicles, don’t park your car there. Walk with your head up and make eye contact with people around you. Thieves often target people who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings or are looking down. Always have your keys ready to enter your vehicle.
Avoid Purchasing Commonly Stolen Vehicles
Each year, the NICB releases its “Hot Wheels” list featuring the 10 most commonly stolen vehicles in America. If you’re considering a new car purchase in the future, you may want to review the list and avoid purchasing one of the commonly stolen models. Some vehicles that are less likely to be targeted are domestic sedans, minivans, and other sensible vehicles. High-performance vehicles, full-size Ford or Chevy pickup trucks, and common foreign sedans, like the Honda Civic, are more likely to be targeted.
Keep Your Investment Protected
For many people, their car is among the biggest investments they’ll make. By being proactive, you can help protect your investment. Although thieves can be tenacious, they’re often on the lookout for a vehicle they can steal or break into quickly—so don’t make it easy for them!
Whether you’ve had your car windows broken by a thief or smashed in a collision, Cline Collision Center is here to help. From high-quality OEM repairs to complete insurance coordination, we make the repair process as smooth as possible. Call us today at (707) 591-9909 or book an appointment online.