How to Protect Against Vehicle Break-Ins

How to Protect Against Vehicle Break-Ins

Between damage to vehicles and cargo theft, vehicle break ins can be costly. A layered security approach can help deter thieves from breaking into your vehicle.

As important as it is to be safe while you’re on the road, leaving a car parked in a public space — such as a street, parking lot, or parking garage — carries its own set of safety risks. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), approximately 1 million vehicles in the United States are targeted for theft each year. Drivers should take steps to deter vehicle break ins and theft, which can result in loss of valuable personal or company property, as well as costly repairs.

A ‘Layered Approach’ to Protection

Preventing a vehicle theft or break in is a tricky proposition, because there is little that a vehicle owner can do once a thief decides that a car is worth breaking into. This is why drivers should take what the NICB refers to as a “layered approach” to protecting their vehicles. The four elements to NICB’s layered approach to theft include common sense, warning devices, immobilizing devices, and tracking devices.

Most drivers should be familiar with common-sense methods of preventing break-ins. These include basics such as removing the keys from the ignition, locking doors and closing windows, and parking in well-lit areas. Hiding valuables or other items that might entice thieves is also important for this step. Common- sense steps for protection are only the first and most simple way to protect your vehicle, however, and may not be enough to stop a break in.

Warning devices indicate to a thief that the car is protected or may be monitored. Audible alarms, for example, come standard with most modern cars. Adding a security club or a steering column collar is also an effective way to notify thieves that your vehicle is protected. Steering wheel and brake pedal locks can also prevent the vehicle itself from being stolen. Warning devices may not completely prevent the event of theft, however, it can ward off less persistent thieves and make stealing personal belongings or commercial property and/or vehicles more difficult.

The third layer of protection involves installing immobilizing devices that prevent anyone other than the driver or authorized personnel from operating the vehicle. Tools, such as fuse cut-offs, kill switches, and disablers can stop thieves from stealing a vehicle by inhibiting the flow of electricity or fuel to the car. Electronics, such as smart keys and wireless ignition authentication, also makes it more difficult for thieves to turn a vehicle on.

The last layer of NICB’s protection plan is the tracking device. These electronic devices use telematics, wireless, and/or GPS technology to notify a monitoring station or the police when a vehicle is stolen. These devices can allow tracking via a computer — including smartphones and other mobile devices — and some can be set up so drivers or other authorized users can be alerted when a vehicle is moving from its location.

Smash-and-Grab Theft

Perhaps the most common form of theft involving vehicles are smash-and-grab thefts, which involve smashing a car’s window to steal anything left in plain sight. This is a quick way for criminals to steal from cars, allowing them to search a car and take any valuable items within a minute or two before leaving the scene.

One of the simplest ways to prevent smash-and-grab theft is to tint your vehicle’s windows as dark as legally permissible. Obscuring the contents of your car will give potential thieves pause as to whether breaking into your vehicle would be worth it.

In a pinch, hiding or disguising items inside the vehicle could help as well, though the best method to prevent theft would be to make sure your vehicle is empty of all valuable items in the first place.

More secure theft-deterring options include installing safety glass, shatter-resistant window film, and door lock reinforcements that deter all but the most tenacious thieves. While costly, metal mesh or cage-type security systems are the most secure option, requiring special tools to break through them.

When it comes to preventing vehicle break ins and theft, every layer of security counts toward keeping your vehicle and belongings safe.

Drive Safely!

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