It can feel like a real-life nightmare when your vehicle is stolen. Preventing your car from being stolen is much easier than dealing with the police and your insurance carrier and tracking down your vehicle after it’s gone. According to the NICB, auto thefts have increased by 25%, with nearly half a million vehicles stolen in the first have of 2022. But, there are steps you can take, including anti-theft systems and devices, that not only deter car thieves, but make stealing your car a near impossibility.
What are anti-theft systems and devices?
Simply put, anti-theft systems and devices are any features that are installed in your vehicle that make it harder to steal or easier to track and recover. Some anti-theft systems come preinstalled in your vehicle. Check your manual or the manufacturer’s website to see if any anti-theft systems or devices might be installed.
When it comes to protecting your car, you’ve got options. There are passive anti-theft systems and active anti-theft devices. There are also many car security devices available.
Passive vs. active anti-theft systems
Passive anti-theft systems
These are systems that automatically turn on, usually when the driver turns off the car and closes all of the doors. For example, many push-to-start cars with specially coded keys will not start without your keys being inside. Passive anti-theft systems are helpful because you don’t have to remember to turn them on.
Active anti-theft systems
Active anti-theft systems must be turned on or activated by the driver to be on and working. They are usually turned on by clicking a button on a remote or key. They are a little more work for the driver but can make your car very difficult to steal.
Anti-theft system options
Steering Wheel Lock
Steering wheel locks are one of the oldest and best-known theft prevention devices on the market today. A steering wheel lock attaches to the steering wheel of the car to lock it in place, preventing someone from driving away. There are two main styles for this lock. The first goes across the steering wheel horizontally and attaches to the wheel at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. On one side the lock extends farther, preventing the wheel from turning very far. The second style attaches to the top of the wheel with the end extending over the front dash to prevent the wheel from turning. The Club is one of the most popular models.
Sometimes called a “boot”, you probably have seen these used by police if a car is illegally parked, but they also come in handy as an anti-theft device. It can be stored in the trunk and is a great way to prevent car theft. However, it doesn’t make sense to use the tire lock every time you stop your vehicle and is best used when your car is parked for a long amount of time.
Pro tip: if you get a tire lock, be sure to get locking lug nuts. Otherwise, anyone use a simple jack to remove your wheel and replace it in order to steal your car.
Hidden Kill Switch
A hidden kill switch cuts electricity flow at the ignition switch of a car to prevent thieves from stealing the vehicle. Some install many hidden kill switches to discourage robbers who try to drive off with their car.
A kill switch needs to be hidden to be effective. Otherwise, a thief can discover and disable the system and take off with your vehicle, defeating the whole purpose. You want to keep the kill switch close to the car’s other vital elements, so it’s typically a good idea to keep it beneath the dashboard or under the driver’s seat. The average hidden kill switch costs $10. However, you may need an auto technician to install the switches.
Audible alarm systems vibrate loudly when thieves touch your vehicle. Since a blaring alarm attracts attention, a thief is more likely to leave your car when you have an audible alarm system.
Alternatively, you can post stickers advertising the alarm system’s brand on your car. This tactic might be effective in deterring crooks from trying to steal your vehicle.
Smart keys will lock a car by using a radio pulse generator to communicate with antennas inside the vehicle. Since these keys send a different signal to the vehicle’s antenna every time, even the most technical thieves may be unable to crack the lock mechanism. If your car is newer, it might have an original smart key. If it doesn’t, ask an auto technician to install an intelligent key for your vehicle.
Most security devices only prevent drive-off theft, but resourceful car thieves use various techniques to acquire cars, like towing or trailering their target vehicles. GPS trackers help you track your car’s location from your smartphone. These trackers will send text messages or email alerts to you whenever your vehicle is in motion. Some trackers also deliver reports on your car’s location and destination through text messages. If you use an advanced GPS tracker, you may be able to immobilize your vehicle when someone is trying to steal it. Usually, GPS trackers cost between $40 to over $100. With services such as LoJack or OnStar, you may also need to pay a monthly fee to keep your GPS active.
Law enforcement can track the location data from your GPS, which means they can find your car and possibly get vital information to help track the thieves. A GPS tracking device can help you recover your vehicle no matter where the thief tries to hide it.
Other ways to prevent vehicle theft
There are several other ways to keep your vehicle safe and prevent it from being stolen.
- Always lock your car, even while driving
- Never leave your keys in the car when you are not in it
- Do not leave your car running while unattended even if you’re warming it up in the winter
- Do not leave valuables in the car, especially not in plain view
- Park in well-lit, heavily trafficked areas
- Do not leave your vehicle title in your car
Of course, with every precaution you take, you still might fall victim to a car thief. If this happens there are two important steps to take as soon as possible:
- Contact the police to report the theft
- File an insurance claim
Does car insurance cover vehicle theft?
Stolen vehicles are covered by comprehensive coverage. If your vehicle is not recovered, your insurer can cut you a check for the current value of your vehicle if you carry comprehensive coverage on that vehicle. If your vehicle is recovered with damages, your repairs should be covered under comprehensive coverage as well. In both cases, your comprehensive deductible will apply.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage yet, you may want to consider adding it for protection, not only in the event of a theft, but for glass claims, flood damage, and a myriad of other situations.
If you aren’t yet an Elephant customer, find out how much you can save and get a quote today.