By Kara Cutruzzula
When it comes to preventing car theft, knowledge is power. Fortunately, we have plenty of tip and tricks to help outsmart thieves and minimize the risk of them stealing your wheels.
First things first, though. Always be aware if you live in a region prone to auto theft. Each year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) releases its "Hot Spots" report
, listing the 10 areas with the highest per capita vehicle theft rate. In the 2017 report (published in July 2018), Albuquerque, N.M., topped the list with 9,989 reported thefts, while five of the top 10 spots are in California. Overall, vehicle theft is up 4.1% across the nation.
Read on for ways to protect the car—and yourself—no matter where the road takes you.
Lock the Doors
It may seem obvious, but locking the car is the simplest way to keep it safe. A recent trend shows that a staggering number of thefts occur because the keys or fob were left inside, dangling in plain sight. According to the NICB
, from 2016 to 2018, an average of 209 vehicles per day were stolen in the United States because drivers left their keys or fobs in their vehicles, making them an easy and attractive target for thieves. "We can't stress enough the importance of locking your vehicle and taking the key or fob with you when you leave it," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle in a press release
. "Anti-theft technology works, but only if you use it."
State departments of motor vehicles recommend parking in well-lit locations. Choose spaces with not just plenty of light, but also plenty of traffic and passersby who are likely to see and report activity around the vehicle. For overnight parking, avoid low-security lots altogether.
Stash Your Stuff
Always take the garage door opener and valuables out of the car, even if it's slightly inconvenient. Keep the vehicle registration in your wallet or purse. Don't leave it in the car in case the vehicle does end up getting stolen.
Never Leave It Running
If living in a cold climate, the temptation is there to warm up the vehicle prior to a morning commute by turning it on and leaving it running while going back inside for a cup of joe. Even if just jumping out for a minute, it's safer—and more fuel-efficient—to completely turn off the engine. It only takes a moment for an opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.
Keep an Eye out
Pay attention to your surroundings when you get out of your car. Being distracted or hurried can leave you vulnerable and forgetful (like remembering to lock your doors).
To further protect your vehicle, get a fast, free, and personalized auto insurance
quote from GEICO to see how much you could save.
This article was originally published on GEICO
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