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Tips to Prevent Auto Theft

Don’t be a car thief’s next victim.

breaking into a car

Auto theft is big business. According to the FBI, more than 715,000 vehicles were stolen in 2011, resulting in more than $4.3 billion in losses.

If a professional car thief really wants to steal your car and has the time, resources and opportunity, there’s little you can do to stop them. What you can do is make your car and its parts hard to sell, and therefore unattractive to a thief.

To keep you and your car from becoming a statistic, here are some commonsense tips to reduce the odds of your vehicle being stolen.

  • Lock your car, keep its windows up and close the sunroof.
  • Don’t leave valuables, like GPS units and cell phones, in plain sight. Also, remove any mounting devices, which tell a thief that valuable items may be in the glove compartment.
  • Park in attended lots or well-lit areas with lots of foot traffic. Your car is safer in your driveway than on the street, but it's even more protected in a locked garage.
  • Never leave your vehicle running while unattended, even if just to run back in the house for a minute.
  • When parked, always leave your car in park or in gear if it has a stick shift. Always apply the parking brake, and turn the steering wheel to point the front wheels towards the curb. These steps make it harder to tow your vehicle.
  • Etch or engrave your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on expensive parts, glass and accessories to make them unattractive to thieves and hard to dispose of.
  • Install hidden ignition kill switches to make your vehicle difficult to start.
  • If your vehicle has an alarm system, use it. If it doesn’t, consider having one installed. The loud sounds from an alarm system will likely scare a thief away.
  • Immobilize your steering wheel, gas and brake pedal with products that make your car impossible to drive.

Having your car stolen or broken into can be traumatic and expensive. While nothing will stop a thief determined to steal your vehicle, you can protect your financial risk with auto insurance. Find an American Family agent near you.


These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards.

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