Tips to counter car rip-offs

It's late. You're tired. After working all day, you arrive home and park your car, looking forward to resting in the comfort and security of your residence. The next morning you wake up, go outside and discover your vehicle has been “burglarized”. A shattered window, pry marks around the door or window or perhaps no visible signs of forced entry at all. The inside has been rifled, items tossed around and contents are missing. No matter the method -- you have been victimized!

Each week many vehicles become targets of thieves. Monetary losses from contents taken are high but sometimes the damage caused by the thieves cost more than the property taken. What can you do to keep from becoming a victim? The following tips may help.

  1. Try to park your vehicle in a locked garage.
  2. If you do not have an enclosed garage, try parking in your driveway as close as possible to the house. This will help prevent thieves from hiding between the house and the car. It will also make it harder to open the hood of the car, thus protecting engine parts from theft.
  3. Remove your remote garage door opener to prevent the thief from gaining access to your garage and house at that time or later.
  4. Leave outside lights on to your residence to illuminate where your car is parked.
  5. If you have to park on a street or a parking lot, park in a well-lit area.
  6. Lock all the doors and roll up the windows.
  7. Secure all valuable out of sight in the trunk or remove them from the car daily.
  8. If your vehicle is a pick-up or other truck, remove exposed equipment or property. Secure equipment in permanently mounted storage or tool boxes with high quality locks.
  9. Consider tinting side windows to the extent allowed by law to prevent easy visibility of contents by thieves.
  10. If you see or hear unusual activity, call the police immediately. Provide detailed descriptions of persons and vehicles involved.
Do not attempt to interrupt a suspected crime yourself! If your vehicle has been broken into, report it to the police as soon as possible. Avoid touching the vehicle until the police have responded to process the scene for possible evidence.

Sometimes, no matter what you do to secure your valuables, a burglary can occur. However, following these suggestions and using common sense can help minimize your likelihood of becoming a victim.