Car Theft Prevention Tips: What You Can Do

Every time you go to the store, there is one constant concern: how to protect your car in the parking lot. In terms of proximity threats, parking lots are like a warzone. There’s the shopping cart dings. There’s the careless driver scrapes. There’s the kids darting out from behind rows. Basically, a parking lot is a nightmare when you are trying to protect your car’s exterior. While you can fix a dent without having to bust out the paint, it’s still something you want to avoid, if you can.

And what’s more, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), tens of thousands of crashes happen in parking lots and garage structures every year. Help cut down on your odds of collecting a parking lot scar with these tips.

Skip the Distractions

Just because we know distracted driving is bad, doesn’t mean we always follow it. And, especially in parking lots, it’s important to be 100% focused. Put down the phone, skip the texting and stop fiddling with the GPS. A recent poll by the NSC showed that 66% of American drivers say they take phone calls in parking lots, with similar figures for  texting, using social media, watching videos, etc. while driving in a parking lot.

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Stay Alert

A parking lot may be slower speeds but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous. (And many people still fly through the rows.) A slower driving pace doesn’t always guarantee a safer time. Cars are moving in more directions and pedestrians are crossing all over. Following basic safety guidelines is crucial.

  • Drive slowly.

  • Be aware of– and obey– arrows, signs, and lines.

  • Keep an eye out for cars reversing in and out of parking spaces.
  • When reversing yourself, double check both ways, go slow and be prepared to brake suddenly.

  • Pay special attention to small children and people in wheelchairs who may not be as immediately visible

Go the Distance

While it might be tempting to cut down the walking time – resist the urge. Parking further away – and away from the hubs of activity – greatly reduces the risk of getting hit. The farther the spot, the emptier the lot, usually. And that means less objects and people posing a threat. Plus, you’ll get in a few more steps for your day, keeping you healthier to boot!

Weather Check!

Windy, blustery days mean doors are more likely to fly open and shopping carts are more likely to roll away. And in the close quarters of parking lots, that means a higher chance of bumps, dents and dings. Be prepared by knowing the conditions, holding tight and looking out for wind born obstacles.

Keep Your Car in Check

Be aware. Be very aware. Staying hyper vigilant and aware of your surroundings in a parking lot is the best defense you can have. Scan your surroundings intensely. And, if your car has the technology, make use of it. Things like backup cameras and blind spot detectors come in handy when you need to see in all directions.

When it comes to that technology, though, you need to make sure it is well maintained and accurate. Things like hitting a pothole could throw cameras out of alignment. If there is a lot of salt on the road due to inclement weather, that can create a film of salt over camera lenses. Part of keeping aware means making sure your bells and whistles are in perfect working order. Keep cameras clean and make sure your computer is working right.

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On average, over 777,000 vehicles are stolen in the U.S. each year. Anti-theft measures designed by automakers have brought this number down significantly since the 1990s. Still, there is a significant chance that thieves could get their hands on your ride. Knowing what precautions to take greatly reduces this risk since the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA) lists most vehicle thefts as crimes of opportunity. You can avoid becoming a victim by following these simple car theft prevention tips.

Tip #1: Follow a routine.

It’s so easy to get into the nasty habit of forgetting to lock up our vehicles. Especially if we live in a neighborhood that is ‘safe’ with few break-ins. Theft of your car can happen anywhere and at any time, especially if you leave valuables inside your vehicle or forget to lock the doors.

The first suggestion of the AATA is to have a designated time in which you make sure that your car is secure. According to their website:

The 9 PM Routine is a nightly reminder to remove valuables out of vehicles and ensure ALL doors and windows are locked, including home and garage areas.  The goal of the 9 PM Routine is to combat auto thefts and break-ins and help empower citizens to develop their own personal security routines by having a designated time to perform these tasks every night at 9 PM. 

You can keep yourself on a routine by doing online ‘check-ins’ through social media as well. This program has had lots of success in Pasco County, reducing break-ins by 33% less than one year after being put in place.

Tip #2 Never leave your car running.

Car theft prevention experts advise that you never, ever leave your vehicle running. It is much harder for a thief to steal your vehicle if they have to find a way to gain access. You might be saying “duh,” but how many times have we done so? 

Maybe you go out to your vehicle a few minutes before leaving to get the AC cranking. Or leave the engine on at the gas station but take your keys with you and hit ‘lock’ before you go inside. Within a few seconds, a carjacker could slip in and take your vehicle or break the window out and drive off. So, if at all possible, try to avoid leaving your car running when unattended unless.

Tip #3 Ditch the spare.

Hardware stores sell these small little boxes made for spare keys and market them to drivers looking for a solution to ‘lost key’ problems. Although convenient, car theft prevention guides recommend storing spares away from your vehicle. Thieves will always check for an extra key, so leaving one in the glove box or under the tire is just as bad as leaving it inside. This is true even if it is in a garage or in safe storage space.

Tip #4 Install an alarm or disabling device.

If your car didn’t come with an audible alarm, you should install one. We get it; it is a hassle and an added expense. Still, it can deter break-ins and serve you when it comes to car theft prevention. There are even ‘silent alarms’ that don’t omit irritating noise but will alert your phone that a break-in is occurring. Immobilizer systems that incorporate smart keys kill switches, and wireless ignition authentication are also good options. Visible devices like steering wheel locks or flashing alarms can stop thieves too. What device you chose depends on personal preference.

Tip #5 Get a GPS tracking system.

Although many stolen vehicles are never recovered, some are found days later, wrecked and ditched. If you can’t stop your ride from being taken by following car theft prevention tips, you at least want to be able to keep it from being involved in a collision or suffering from dents and scratches. Thankfully, technology allows us to track almost anything, including our cars. For less than fifty bucks, drivers can purchase a GPS tracking device that will enable you to find your vehicle’s location if it gets stolen.

If all of these car theft prevention tips fail and you find yourself needing repairs made to your vehicle, contact Orlando Auto Body at 480-428-2783.