It takes less time for a career car thief to enter your vehicle, start it and be off as it does for you to dash inside Dunkin’ Donuts for your morning Joe, but on January 1, 2015, keep an extra eye out. Thieves not sleeping it off will be waiting like vultures continuing to make New Year’s Day the year’s most-stolen-car day of the year. And lest you think your commuter clunker is immune to theft, you should know the 1994 Honda Accord is one of the most stolen vehicles across the country. Nassau County Acting Commissioner of Police Thomas C. Krumpter also said there’s been an increase in luxury cars and SUV’s stolen in the country since October. If your nice new luxury vehicle has a push button starter and electronic key fobs, you’re particularly popular.
“We know that thieves never miss an opportunity to make a quick buck by stealing a car,” Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of NICB said. “They work weekends, nights and holidays and ironically, they are particularly busy on New Year’s Day and Labor Day.”
While there isn’t any way to stop a crook who really wants your ride and has the tools and know-how to make it happen, the following tips can help your car become a less inviting target and slow down, discourage or actually prevent car theft.
Take your keys—always.
If you think this tip falls into the “duh” section of car theft prevention, try Googling the phrase “keys in ignition” or similar and you’ll see many trusting souls leave the equivalent of a sign reading “FREE CAR!” hanging from their ignition switches on a daily basis. Car theft is often a crime of opportunity, so shut yours off and pocket your keys even if you’re only ducking into a convenience store.
Don’t hide your keys anywhere within or outside the car.
You know those magnetic key holders you can buy to store your spare key? Leave it in your house on the fridge, not under bumpers, in the glove compartment or anywhere in the car. Thieves know all the hiding places you do, and probably a few more.
Use a variety of methods to slow would-be thieves.
Car alarms are ubiquitous and often go ignored. When used in tandem with other theft prevention methods, though, they will make a thief naturally try to work faster, and if he comes across other security measures, he may give up altogether and move on. Apply the emergency brake, turn your wheels hard left or right and set the car in “park” or in gear, making it more difficult for you to be quickly towed, and consider using a vehicle recovery system like LoJack or an engine immobilizer device such as Ravelco.
Disable your battery if parking long-term
A thief won’t spend time trying to diagnose an apparent engine problem. Consider yanking one of the cable wires to your battery if you’re leaving your car parked at an airport or anywhere else where it will sit unattended for more than a few days.
Sign valuable parts
Take the time to embed your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the inside of your trunk, inside your doors, on your sound system components and any other pricey parts thieves like to chop. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, contact your local police precinct or even your insurance company, some of whom offer free VIN etchings.