How to Prevent Car Theft

Despite technological advances, the motor vehicle theft rate in the United States continues to rise. According to the FBI, more than 810,000 vehicles were stolen in 2020, an increase of 11.8% over the previous year. A staggering $7.4 billion was lost to vehicle theft in 2020 with the average dollar loss per theft coming in at $9,166.

After peaking at 1.7 million thefts in 1991, the crime spree continued to drop for the next 26 years, coming in less than half of the record in recent years. The FBI credits several sources in helping reduce thefts, including public safety measures, juvenile outreach, and technological advances. But thieves continue to figure out new ways to steal vehicles, including stealing smart keys and identity theft.

car theft

How to Prevent Car Theft

Preventing theft should be a priority for vehicle owners. To that end, we’ll explore some methods every vehicle owner should take to avoid losing their rides.

Secure your vehicle.

The most sensible approach for vehicle owners is to simply keep their doors locked and windows up. A secure vehicle is simply more difficult to steal. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but you do lower those odds accordingly.

Keep track of your keys.

You might be surprised to find out that a significant number of car thefts occur because people leave their keys in the ignition. Also, hiding keys underneath a vehicle is an old trick that thieves look for when stealing a ride. Never leave keys exposed. Why create an opportunity where one does not need to exist?

Hide your valuables.

Thieves sometimes don’t care to steal your car, but what is in it. While it is much more difficult for crooks to steal audio systems, if you leave valuables in plain sight, you are inviting trouble. We recommend that people take their valuables with them. If you want to leave them behind, put them in a secure place. A locking glove box. A center console storage compartment. A secret compartment within the vehicle. Hide valuables away from prying eyes.

Be on the alert.

Situational awareness is the key to all things in life. Understand your surroundings. Know who is in the vicinity. If something looks out of place, raise your alert level. Realize that thieves often work in teams. One may serve as a lookout, while the other does the deed. If you are uncomfortable with leaving a vehicle in a certain location, then do not.

Lights, please.

Parking under a streetlamp in a heavily trafficked area will reduce the chances that your car will be stolen. Thieves love to commit their crimes under the cloak of darkness. Also, if there are security cameras nearby, that can work in your favor as well. Even so, remain vigilant.

Use anti-theft deterrents.

Locking doors and securing windows are good first steps. But thieves who want your car will look for ways beyond that. If they break your glass, they can quickly get in and figure out a way to start your car. But if you have a security system in place, an alarm will chase thieves away. Many new cars are equipped with security systems. Just make sure that they are alarmed once you lock your doors.

Consider immobilizer and tracking technology.

Two more technologies are useful for vehicle owners that go beyond a security system. The first is an immobilizer system. The way that this system works is that if someone steals your car, you can either immobilize it yourself or notify the third party to do that for you. Also, a tracking system makes it easier for the police to find out where your vehicle is and ultimately who has it. Thanks to GPS technology police can recover your vehicle faster if it is stolen.

Prevent Car Theft

Car theft is not a given, but it often happens because an owner is careless or not aware of his or her surroundings. If your vehicle is stolen, notify the police. Give them the make, model, model year, and color of the vehicle. The license number and vehicle identification number are also needed. Notify your insurer as quickly as possible too. Hopefully, the police will find your ride and restore it to you without delay.


(n.d.). Facts + Statistics: Auto theft. What Is Social Inflation? What Can Insurers Do About It. HTTP://

Santos, J. (2021, June 10). Can an Engine Immobilizer Really Prevent Car Theft? HTTP://

(n.d.). How to Report a Stolen Vehicle. National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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