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How to Prevent Car Break-ins

One of the most infuriating things that can happen to a car owner – and it’s one of the most common forms of larceny in the U.S. The “smash-and-grab” car break-in. They don’t even steal your whole car, just the valuable items in it – which you then have to painstakingly replace while dealing with the arduous and costly car-repair process.

While there’s no way to 100% deter these kinds of thieves, there are some common-sense steps you can take to make your vehicle a much less appealing target. Above all, thieves look for opportunities. Make them “work” for their pilfered prizes, and they’ll most likely just forget it and move on to an easier target. Here are a few tips from our friends at Nationwide on how to prevent vehicle break-ins:

Tip #1 - Make sure valuables are out of sight

Smash-and-grab thieves typically aren’t criminal masterminds who craft clever schemes to swipe your stuff. Most are casual opportunists. They see something they like, so they break in and take it. So before you get out of your car, make sure your valuables are out of sight. Never leave these things lying out on your seats, dashboard or floor:

  • Phone

  • Purse or wallet

  • Laptop (or its bag)

  • A briefcase or backpack

  • Shopping bags

  • Small electronics

  • CDs if you still use them

  • Cash – yes, even loose change/coins

  • Your keys – it actually happens!

Tip #2 - Try to keep your vehicle highly visible

Most thieves go solo. The last thing they want is a crowd of onlookers with cell phones and pepper spray ready. So try to keep your car highly visible:

  • Park near other people. Go for busy lots where there’s plenty of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

  • If you'll be away from your car after dark, park in a well-lit area or near a lamppost.

  • Choose a lot with an attendant over one without.

See suspicious activity? Trust your instincts and don't park there. And never confront anyone yourself. If you're concerned, report your suspicions to an attendant or the police.

Tip #3 - Make your vehicle a harder target

Thieves are also lazy. With car break-ins, they’re usually not looking for a huge payoff. What this type of thief wants is a quick thrill – or maybe a little extra revenue – for as little work as possible. By making your car a harder target for these people, you make it less desirable. So:

  • Always lock your doors and roll up your windows when you park.

  • Activate your security system if you have one.

  • Consider window tinting (if permitted by local laws), since it makes casing your car more difficult.

  • Use after-market measures, like mechanisms that lock the steering wheel to protect your car and alert thieves that you've taken extra security measures.

  • Don’t use the console or glove box as mobile lock boxes. These are obvious to thieves, too.

  • Don't hand them the keys

Again, car smash-and-grabbers don’t normally take the vehicle itself. However, there is always the chance that a key on the dash or in the ignition may motivate the more daring into outright auto theft. Also, remember that if you have a great hiding place for a key – say, in your wheel well or above the sun visor – a thief has also thought of it. So if you’re away from your car, keep your keys away from it too. Preferably with you.

Protecting your vehicle in Austin, MN

Again, theft is often an opportunity. If someone breaks into your car and realizes they have the opportunity to steal your vehicle as well as your valuables, you face a much larger loss. Follow the above tips to help make your vehicle less of a target to thieves.

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