12 Ways to Protect Your Car From Theft: Tips Every Driver Should Know

Car Theft Can Happen To Anyone

Auto theft is increasing in Ontario. Depending on your source, anywhere from 24,000 to 52,000 motor vehicles are stolen annually in Ontario. While that is a vast range, what is agreed on, is that the number is very high. Something else all sources say is that these numbers are also increasing annually.

While you might think such a terrible thing could never happen to you, most vehicle owners who get their cars stolen also thought that. No matter how much they think they've prepared themselves, nobody is immune to having their vehicle stolen. However, you can take many steps to protect your car from theft that will help drastically lower the odds.

The expert brokers at Morison Insurance have put together a list of tips to help protect your car from theft.

Simple Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Car From Theft

Many of the most essential steps you can take are ones that don't cost any money and require very little time. However, people often need to pay more attention to many of these basic steps in a rush, even though these precautions are the first step in protecting your car from theft.

1. Don't Leave Your Car Running When You're Not There

A common mistake, as silly as it may seem, is to leave your car key in the ignition. Although very few people do this for hours at a time, many people often leave their car running for a few minutes when they go back inside to grab something they forgot. This makes them easy prey for even novice car thieves, who can climb into the driver's seat as if they owned the car and drive away. If nobody nearby knows that this person isn't the owner, nobody will stop them. Also, since they're already in their new getaway vehicle, they can cover a lot of distance by the time you've found your wallet.

2. Lock The Doors and Close The Windows

Another mistake that sounds silly to miss, but anyone can have this slip their mind due to being in a hurry or simply underestimating their risk, is forgetting to lock the car doors and close your windows. This should be a simple step in theft prevention, but it can easily slip the mind of someone who needs to think more carefully. Remember to double-check that they're locked by trying to open the doors yourself. Remember that if you have kids, it's best to double-check that they also lock the passenger doors. You might not want to start sounding like your parents did when you were a kid, but would you rather annoy your kids slightly or lose your car?

3. Park In A Safe Location

Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can make your car an easy target for thieves. Although there's no perfect spot to park, you can take a few steps here to ensure that you don't become easy pickings.

The most effective one is to park your car in a garage or other closed area if possible. Not only does a secure garage add at least one door as an additional obstacle for anyone trying to steal it, but it makes it highly likely that a potential thief won't even know about your car in the first place.

If you don't have a private garage, the next best thing you can do is park in a well-lit area. Although this might seem to put a literal spotlight on your vehicle, it would also put the same spotlight on anyone trying to steal it. Thieves don't want people to catch them stealing. This also works in parking lots, so choosing a well-lit parking space can be effective. Making sure you're in a busier area can also help, as someone trying to steal your car will want to minimize their chances of getting caught. Parking in a place with lower crime rates is also recommended.

You have another line of defense if you have multiple cars and a driveway. You can use the less valuable car to "block" the more valuable one in your driveway.

4. Hide Your Valuables

While there are very few things more valuable than a car, having something valuable inside can get a thief to decide that your car is the one they'll try to steal. Things like a laptop, wallet, cell phone or another high-value item might be enough extra to entice a robber to steal your car. Hiding valuable items will make your car a less tempting target for thieves. Places that can effectively conceal these items include under seats, in the glove compartment, or in the trunk. Each location ensures that your valuables are 'covered' and not visible to someone who decides to peek inside your windows. Someone can't steal a smartphone that they didn't know was there.

Keeping valuable items out of sight is an extra step in protecting your car from theft, and it also stops potential smash and grabs. Small things, such as a smartphone, can also be kept on your person.

5. Know Your Car's Information

Although you don't want to consider the possibility, knowing your car's information will help it be identifiable if it is stolen. This includes your car's make, year, colour, model, license plate number, vehicle identification number and any distinctive markings. These sound basic to many people, but you'd likely be surprised how many car owners don't know basic information about the vehicle they drive almost every day.

Anti-Theft Devices To Help Protect Your Car From Theft

While you can take plenty of steps to protect your car from theft without spending a dime, you can always go the extra mile. However, you can take many additional steps to bring your protection to the next level. You can always invest in one or more anti-theft systems to lower your risk even further.

6. Surveillance Systems

A security camera or other device capable of capturing the thief will ensure that your car will continuously be monitored on your property. If the camera doesn't deter the thief, it will get you a glimpse of them, making identifying and tracking them down easier.

7. Lock Down Devices

A few anti-theft devices can act as a visual deterrent to thieves, while making the vehicle physically harder to steal.

One such device is a steering wheel lock, which usually takes the form of a metal bar that will 'lock' the steering wheel in place for anyone without the right keys, making a getaway for the thief much more difficult. Given the fact that these devices are also almost always highly noticeable, it will also lower the chances of someone trying to steal your car in the first place.

A hidden kill switch is another device that can help protect your car from theft. This is a device that, when installed, will stop your vehicle from starting unless the operator flips it. While this may seem trivial, you can hide the switch anywhere on your car, meaning that a potential thief will have to find it to steal the car, even if they get everything else right.

8. Alarms

The most well-known anti-theft feature is an audible car alarm. If you've ever heard one, you know how well they manage to capture the attention of everyone within a relatively large area. The second this alarm goes off, anybody trying to break into your vehicle will be caught red-handed by any witnesses present. The second a thief hears that they tripped an active alarm, they're unlikely to continue trying to break in ,run far from the scene and avoid the area for the foreseeable future.

9. GPS or Other Tracking Software

Let's say worse comes to worst. Despite taking every reasonable precaution in protecting your car from theft, your car ends up getting stolen. An onboard anti-theft GPS system will make your car trackable, as you will know the exact location it was taken to, making tracking down the thief easy. A tracking device like this sends the location of your car to a connected computer or smartphone so that you can track where your car is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These systems are capable of telling you (and law enforcement) the location of your stolen vehicle and communicating the speed and direction the car is heading in.

Ways to Prevent Keyless Entry

Modern tech has done plenty of great things to make everything more convenient. Keyless entry, which many cars now come with, is a great example of this. However, just like the ‘remember me’ check box on a login screen, something that makes things easier for you also makes things easier for someone who has less than great intentions. 

Keyless entry, despite its great intent, leaves you more exposed to car thieves. A thief, or more often a pair of thieves can use a relay amplifier and a relay transmitter together to pick up your key’s signal and trick your car’s system into unlocking as if you were using the fob. This allows them to walk in and drive away. As scary as this may seem, there are further steps you can take to protect your car from theft.

10. Cover Your Key Fob When On Your Person

One of the largest weaknesses of a key fob is how exposed it is. The signal it gives off is not protected at all from a relay amplifier, making the signal more prone to being intercepted. Luckily, a key fob cover can assist in protecting your car from theft at very little cost. They also fit right in your pocket, giving you this protection when you’re on the go as well as at home.

It is important to note though that key fob covers are made of very specific materials, so just purchasing a tiny bag, or stuffing the fob in your wallet won’t do. You need the metallic screen to stop the waves that the fob gives out, and block the signal from being picked off.

11. Store Your Key Fobs Safely When Not In Use

While a key fob cover provides one layer of protection, it's always best to have multiple, especially when you’re not about and about. Storing your fob in a metal container can add a layer of protection, as can storing it in the middle of your place of residence. An amplifier can only pick up signals up to a certain range, so if it's possible to place your fob away from the edges of your home, that will help protect your car from theft.

12. Turn The Fob Off If Possible

Sometimes the best protection you can have for technology is to turn it ‘off’ when it's not in use. Amplifiers can’t pick up and steal your fob’s signal if the fob isn’t giving off a signal. The vast majority of fobs allow you to turn them off, so this is usually the best defense you can have against keyless car theft. The owner’s manual should explain how to do this, and if it does not, it's recommended you contact your car’s manufacturer.

What Happens if Your Car Gets Stolen?

First things first, remember not to panic. Panicking will likely cause you to make a poor decision, making your situation even worse. The best thing you can do is to stay calm and contact the right people. After that, sit tight and work your way through the emotions of the situation, as having your car stolen can be a traumatic event for anyone.

Who Should You Call If Your Car Gets Stolen?

Sadly, calling the Ghostbusters won't do you good when your car is stolen. However, as obvious as it may seem, the police can be extremely helpful if you call them. This is where one of the proactive steps mentioned earlier, knowing your car, will come in very handy. Things such as the make, model and license plate number of your vehicle will be among the first things the cops will ask you, and identifying these will help them start the search a lot sooner and give them a better idea of what they're looking for.

The other place you should call right away is your insurance broker. Almost every auto insurance policy has some protection against vehicle theft. Understanding your auto insurance plan will help you get the compensation you deserve.

Can Car Insurance Help In Protecting Your Car From Theft?

Car insurance is designed to give you peace of mind that you're fully protected even if the worst-case scenario happens. If that scenario plays out, and somehow your car gets stolen, and you cannot recover it, can you get reimbursed? Some car insurance policies not only cover potential theft but will also financially protect you in the case of accidents and other damages to your vehicle. This coverage however, may need to be added to your policy. Make sure to speak with your expert broker at Morison Insurance for more details. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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