By Justin Stoltzfus
How to Protect Your Car from Being Stolen
Car theft is a big business in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 700,000 vehicles are stolen each year (based on the most recent data from 2012-2013). That's a little more than one car theft for every 1,000 vehicles produced with one car stolen somewhere in America every 45 seconds, so it pays to take steps to secure your vehicle and protect the investment you've made in your vehicle.

Who's Most at Risk?
Every year, researchers compile lists of the locations with the most stolen cars and other factors affecting theft rates. In 2012 the top states for auto theft were the three most populated states in the country: California, Florida, and Texas, followed by New York and Georgia, as shown in this NHTSA infographic.

What you drive also makes a difference. The most stolen car models in 2012 included the Mercedes-Benz CL at the top of the list, along with the Mazda 6, Nissan Infiniti, and the Chrysler 300. Other frequently stolen vehicles included two Dodge models, the Charger and the Avenger, two Mitsubishi models, the Eclipse and Galant, as well as the Chevrolet Impala and Captiva.

However, auto theft can affect anyone, anywhere. Use these tips to keep your car safe when you're not around.

  • Lock it up. A surprising number of thefts happen because a door was unlocked. Make sure you keep your doors locked, even if the car is in your own driveway.
  • Stow valuables out of sight. Make sure anything worth stealing is hidden. Even something as simple as a CD or laptop case can entice thieves to break a window to take whatever is on the seat or floor or even take off with the car.
  • Park wisely. When possible, park your car in a garage or other secure location. When parking outdoors, park near buildings, in well-lit areas, or in other places that make it more difficult for thieves to operate.
  • Install vehicle recovery and engine immobilizer systems. NHTSA officials estimate that 45% of stolen cars are never recovered — but new technologies can help drivers to make sure that if a theft happens, they will be able to get their cars back. Engine immobilizers can be triggered after a theft to stop thieves in their tracks. Tracking systems like Lo-Jack and others help law enforcement to find a stolen vehicle. In many cases, just advertising the installation of these systems is enough to protect a car — after all, there's no point in stealing a vehicle that can't be driven or hidden from the law.
  • Take advantage of low-tech precautions. Locking steering wheel bars, such as "The Club", are popular anti-theft protections because they are both effective (unless the thief carries a big saw) and affordable. Other variations lock the steering wheel to the gas or brake pedal. This can be an effective deterrent and add quite a lot to the time a thief needs to steal the vehicle, making that theft impractical.
With these tips, you can help keep your car or truck from becoming another statistic.


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