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Top Tips to Help Prevent Auto Theft

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 770,000 people fall victim to vehicle theft each year. The most recent information from the Insurance Information Institute states that in 2017, motor vehicle theft cost drivers in the United States approximately $6 billion.

During the holidays, auto theft can increase, since the days are shorter, and people tend to be out more holiday shopping or participating in festivities. So how can you deter thieves from targeting your vehicle? These tips can help.

A thief stealing a purse from inside a car.
  1. Park your car in a safe spot. At home, park your vehicle in your garage. If you have to park your car outside, select a well-lit and preferably busy location — for example in the middle of a parking lot, under a street lamp or in clear view of a busy store.
  2. Lock all the doors Be sure to check the doors before you walk away from the vehicle. Also, make sure the windows are closed all the way.
  3. Don't leave the car unattended with the engine running. While remote start might be convenient on a cold morning, it's also an invitation to car thieves. Similarly, so is leaving your car's engine running when you go into a store for a few minutes.
  4. Never leave valuables in your vehicle. Thieves don't just steal vehicles — they also look for money and valuables that's why you should never leave your wallet, phone, laptop or other valuables in plain view in the car.
  5. Have a car alarm installed. A car alarm is a great thief deterrent. Usually, it will be linked to your vehicle's horn and emit a loud sound if anyone tries to break into the car while the alarm's activated. Ask your mechanic what the best type of alarm is for your vehicle.
  6. Use additional anti-theft devices. NHTSA recommends using wheel locks and a steering wheel lock. Even though they can be removed, they'll slow thieves down and make your vehicle a less attractive target than vehicles that don't have them.
  7. Have your vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on the windshield. Your car's VIN is a unique code that's associated with your specific vehicle. For thieves, it's less attractive to steal a car that can easily be identified since it's too expensive for them to replace the windshield.
  8. Use a vehicle immobilizing system. According to Angie's List, a vehicle immobilizing system prevents the car from starting unless the key is near it. That means thieves can't hot-wire your vehicle. You can purchase a car immobilizer for as little as $25, and it's advisable to have it installed by a mechanic.
  9. Consider a tracking system. Many newer cars are equipped with on-board telematics systems that allow them to be tracked if they're stolen. If your car doesn't have one, you can purchase a tracking system, and have it installed.

Keep in mind that many insurance companies offer discounts if you install anti-theft devices, a car alarm or a tracking system. Contact your local independent insurance agent for more information.

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