4 Steps to Prevent Car Theft

by | Feb 5, 2024 | Everyday Living, Safety Tips

Thief approaching car

From high-tech hacking devices to old-school break-ins, car theft is a real threat many face daily. In 2022 alone, over 1 million vehicles were stolen (according to The National Insurance Crime Bureau). This marks a 7% increase in vehicle thefts. This blog post will guide you through 4 crucial steps to prevent car theft. These tips won’t just help safeguard your vehicle but also provide you with peace of mind every time you park. So, let’s drive in and explore how you can keep your car safe and secure. 

4 Ways to Not Be A Victim of Car Theft 

  1. Understand the “Why” Behind Car Theft 
  2. Common Methods Used by Car Thieves 
  3. 7 Ways to Secure your Vehicle 
  4. What Steps to Take After Your Car is Stolen 

Understanding Car Theft 

The first step to prevent becoming a car theft victim is to understand the more common reasons that people steal cars in the first place. Car thefts occur for a variety of different reasons, each with implications and preventative measures.  

Here are some common reasons why car theft happens: 

  1. Temporary Transportation: Anything from joyriding to using the vehicle as a means of transportation for other criminal activities. Because the vehicle is not linked to the criminal, it can provide a layer of anonymity that can make it harder for law enforcement to catch them.
  2. Resale Value: Cars, especially high-end models, can fetch a hefty price in the black market. Some thieves steal cars to sell them whole or dismantle them to sell their parts separately.
  3. Easy Targets: Certain car models are more easily stolen due to their lack of sophisticated anti-theft systems. Furthermore, vehicles left unlocked or with visible valuables inside are more likely to be targeted.
  4. Peer Influence and Boredom: Especially among younger offenders, peer influence and boredom are key motivators to stealing a car.  For example, this summer, a TikTok trend was going around promoting a group called “The Kia Boys,” which consisted of a loose band of teenagers across the nation who were targeting, stealing, and destroying Kia vehicles due to a flaw in the car’s computer chip system.  Many copycat thefts followed as Kia thefts (and the filming of these thefts) trended on social media. We even saw a spike in this trend locally. 

Common Methods Used by Car Thieves 

Car thieves often use a mix of old-fashioned and high-tech tactics to steal cars. The preferred methodology tends to be tied to the sophistication of the thief and their reason to steal the car. For example, a joyrider might simply hotwire an older car, whereas someone targeting a higher-end model for resell might use more technology to help them steal the car.  

Here are some common traditional and newer methods of car theft.  

5 “Old School” Car Theft Methods 

  1. Hot Wiring: This is one of the most well-known methods of car theft. It involves connecting the ignition and battery wires to start the car without a key.
  2. Slim Jim: A Slim Jim is a thin, flat strip of metal used to unlock car doors. Thieves would slide this tool between the car’s window and door frame to hit the unlocking mechanism.
  3. Breaking the Steering Column: In older models, thieves could chip away at the top of the steering column to expose the rod going down into the ignition switch. Once exposed, they could manipulate it to start the car.
  4. Master Key: Some thieves used to carry around a set of “master keys.” These keys could open and start various cars, particularly those from the same manufacturer.
  5. Tow Truck Theft: Some thieves use a tow truck to steal cars. The car gets lifted onto the back of the truck and driven away, often without raising any suspicion.

The New Ways Thieves Steal Cars  

  1. Keyless Car Theft: This method involves intercepting and relaying signals from a car’s key fob to unlock and start the vehicle without needing the actual key.
  2. Hanoi Burglary: Named after a spate of car thefts in Hanoi, this method involves breaking into a person’s home to steal car keys.
  3. Turbo Decoder Theft: Thieves use a turbo decoder, a sophisticated locksmith tool, to pick the car lock quickly and without causing damage.
  4. Transponder Key Cloning: Thieves can use advanced tools to clone a transponder key, which they then use to start the car.
  5. Onboard Diagnostics Compromise: Some thieves reprogram a dummy key fob through the vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) port, essentially creating a new key for the car.
  6. Relay Attack: In a relay attack, thieves use a device to amplify the signal from a key fob inside a home, tricking the car into thinking the key is nearby.

Knowing what tricks car thieves use can help us put better safeguards in place, making it more challenging for them to swipe cars. 


7 Ways to Secure Your Vehicle 

No one wants to deal with the stress of having their ride stolen. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps you can take to secure your car and keep it where it’s supposed to be – with you! Putting these recommendations into action is the first step in keeping your vehicle safe.  

  1. Lock Your Vehicle: It may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people forget to lock their cars. Always ensure your car is locked, even if you’re leaving it for just a moment.  
  2. Anti-Theft Systems: From basic alarms to advanced immobilizers and keyless entry encryption, investing in a car alarm system significantly reduces the risk of theft. Modern systems can also push theft or security notifications to your phone for quick response. 
  3. Secure Parking: Park smart! Choose well-lit and surveilled parking spots to deter car theft. 
  4. Conceal Valuables: Don’t leave valuables visible inside your car (this includes bookbags). Use your trunk if you need to leave something in the car while you’re away.  
  5. Steering Wheel Locks: Adding a physical barrier such as a steering wheel lock can act as an effective theft deterrent, especially for preventing theft for cars with keyless entry.  
  6. Tracking Devices: Install a tracking device can aid in the swift recovery of your vehicle if stolen. Sometimes you can take all the steps to prevent car theft, but the thief still manages to find a way. 
  7. Smart Garage Door Opener: Keep your car safe at home by utilizing smart home security tools – like a smart garage door opener from CPI. These tools can provide additional security by notifying you when your garage door is open, locking your garage remotely, and providing you an update if someone comes into your garage.  

By following these steps and utilizing smart home security solutions like those offered by CPI, you can enhance you and your vehicle’s safety at home and on the road.  


What to Do If Your Car Is Stolen 

If you unfortunately find yourself the victim of car theft, the first step is to remain calm and act quickly. Time is of the essence. Whether your car was taken for a joyride, or an intended resell, chances are the thieves won’t be holding onto it for long. Here are the steps to take: 

  1. Contact the Police: The first thing you should do if your car is stolen is report the theft to the police. Provide them with all the necessary details, including make, model, color, and license plate number. 
  2. Report to Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. They’ll guide you through the claim process, including providing a police report. 
  3. Use Tracking Device: If your car is equipped with a tracking device, notify the service provider so they can help locate your vehicle. Do not attempt to recover the car on your own. Provide the police with the tracked location so they can follow up. 
  4. Check CCTV: If your car was parked near a surveillance camera, it may have caught the theft. Contact the owners of the camera (if possible) to request footage. 
  5. Monitor Online Sales: Monitor online platforms where used cars are sold. Your car may appear there. If found, go to the police first. Don’t try to play the role of the hero. 
  6. Report to DMV: In some regions, it’s advised to report the theft to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), as they may be able to assist further. 


Prevent Car Theft with Vehicle Security Measures  

Keeping your car from being stolen is all about staying alert and taking action. Always remember to lock your car, stash your valuables out of sight, and consider installing a smart home garage control to help protect your vehicle.  

We can help. Elevate your peace of mind by integrating advanced technology into your home security. Visit CPI Smart Home Garage Control to learn more about how you can protect your car and take a step in preventing vehicle theft. 

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