The weather is heating up and with it the number of auto thefts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration marks National Vehicle Theft Prevention month in July. As you hit the road for your summer vacation, remember it’s all fun and games until the games are stolen with the vehicle.
Drivers can take a few simple steps to help prevent car theft. One step is as simple as removing valued items and locking your vehicle. Living in rural communities especially, we can get complacent and think “oh theft will never happen in my neighborhood,” and that’s just what the thieves are hoping. Each time you exit your vehicle, whether at home or on vacation, remove the keys and lock it up. If you must leave a valuable item inside your vehicle, lock it up out of sight such as in your trunk. This straightforward step could be the difference in preventing car theft.
If your summer vacation is leading you to the airport or a parking garage, remember to park in a well-lit area. It’s also a good idea to grab your garage door opener before leaving your vehicle. Thieves who enter your vehicle may find an address on a car registration or insurance information, swipe the garage door opener and before you know it, both your vehicle and home have been burglarized.
While gas siphoning isn’t as common as it used to be, gas prices are rising and to prices we haven’t seen in a while. If you plan to leave your vehicle outside for an extended period and have a large gas tank, it may be worth your while to invest in a locking gas cap. A locking gas cap can help you avoid losing money in fuel and prevent extensive damage to your vehicle. Keep in mind, a locking gas cap doesn’t completely solve the problem as there are other ways to remove gas from a vehicle.
In addition, there are several other ways to avoid car theft. Try installing audible and visible deterrent devices such as:
- Steering-wheel locks.
- Horn and light car alarms.
- Break locks.
- Theft-deterrent decals.
- Vehicle recovery systems.
- Engraving the vehicle identification number (VIN) on all vehicle windows.
Visible and audible alarms deter theft by bringing attention to an illegal attempt to enter or steal a vehicle. If your vehicle is entered, wheel locks and break locks keep your vehicle from going too far and vehicle recovery systems like car trackers and engraved VINs can help with theft recovery.
If your vehicle has been stolen, contact the local police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. Ensure you receive a copy of the report and/or case number for your insurance provider. Be sure to contact your insurance company within 24 hours of filing a police report.
One last reminder before heading out on your summer vacation: Write down and/or take photos of your vehicle make, model, year and color, your VIN, any specific identifying characteristics and finally your license plate number. Keep this information with you and at home. If your vehicle is stolen, these will be important details to provide the police.
Your summer vacation doesn’t have to end in disaster. Take steps to prevent car theft year-round, but especially as the temperatures heat up.