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How to prevent car theft

April 15, 2015

No one would intentionally invite someone to steal his or her car, but some drivers might be drawing in thieves without even knowing it by making common mistakes, this is why it's important for you to know how to prevent car theft. According to Esurance, while comprehensive auto insurance will cover loss of or damage to a stolen vehicle, it doesn't cover the personal property inside. In order for motorists to save themselves the trouble of filing a claim or losing expensive property, they should ensure that they aren't inadvertently welcoming thieves into their vehicle. Here are four things to consider about car theft safety:

Is your car at risk for theft?

1. Is the vehicle key free?

Remote keyless systems allow motorists to unlock their vehicles with wireless fobs. According to The New York Times contributor Nick Bilton, key-free cars are extremely susceptible to theft, and he was a victim himself. Car thieves, even as young as teenagers, are using a device called a “power amplifier" that allows the car to communicate with the designated wireless fob at a greater distance than normal. Typically, a fob can only open the door when it's located a few feet from the vehicle, such as when it's in the pocket of the driver. With the power amplifiers, thieves enable the car to communicate with a fob that could be on the kitchen counter of the driver's home, for example.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat this theft tactic. Though inconvenient, Bilton stores his wireless fob in the freezer, which blocks the signal. Otherwise, it might be best to wait until car companies can solve this issue before purchasing wireless keys.

2. Where is the car parked?

According to ABC News, cars thieves are more likely to target vehicles in dark, secluded locations like parking garages, car ports or underground parking. This way, thieves can pick from multiple cars and there's a reduced risk of being detected. If drivers can, they should park in a driveway or in front of a home. Thieves are less likely to steal cars parked in open, well-lit areas.

The National Highway Safety Associated suggests drivers park with the wheels turned to the curb. This will make it more difficult for someone to tow the car out of a parallel parking spot with a tow truck, which is sometimes used in car theft. Additionally, for those with rear-wheel drive vehicles, backing the car up into the driveway will also make it more difficult for it to be towed away.

3. What's inside the car?

Don't be fooled—just because a car is locked doesn't mean thieves won't try to get to the valuables inside. The personal property inside of a car can be just as attractive to thieves as the car itself. Purses, GPS systems, expensive radios and backpacks are all things that might entice someone to break in. The best practice is to either keep those things out of sight or to not leave them in the car at all.

4. What condition was the car left in?

Are the windows open? Is the car running? Are the keys sitting inside the vehicle? All of these factors are a welcoming invitation for thieves. According to Steve Fuller, a former car thief, leaving the window open, even just an inch, is enough for someone to easily steal a car. It might seem like a good idea to cool down the vehicle on a hot day, but it can ultimately lead to a criminal incident.

With just a small amount of space in the window, “I can get out of its track by rocking it back and forth until I get it out of the track,” Fuller told ABC News.

By being aware of what car thieves are looking for, motorists can save themselves from a lot of auto insurance trouble, loss of personal property, car theft, and risk of physical danger.