The car of one of my neighbors was burglarized recently, and the thieves stole a nice car stereo and back-seat DVD entertainment system. According to a report at CNN.com, $1.25 billion in personal items and accessories are stolen from vehicles in about 1.8 million thefts each year.
My neighbor had -- stupidly -- left his car unlocked. Did he have an alarm? Yep, but it wasn't activated, either. He mistakenly thought, because we live in a small, gated neighborhood, that his car was safe. Law enforcement officials say that finding unlocked cars is still the number one way thieves are getting in. Luckily, this form of theft can be easily prevented with a little common sense.
Summer is here, and according to the NHTSA, July and August are the banner months for would-be theives. Pay attention to the following tips to reduce your chances of falling victim to car thieves:
• Lock your vehicle and close your windows.
• Be sure to set your car alarm every time you park your vehicle.
• Always take your keys with you after you park your vehicle. Do not use spare keys hidden on or in your vehicle. Consider a spare key in your wallet instead.
• Remove or hide your garage remote when you leave your vehicle unattended.
• Park and lock your vehicle in your garage whenever possible. If you don't have a garage, don't park your vehicle in isolated or dark areas.
• Remove personal information such as driver license, registration, etc., from unattended vehicles.
• Do not leave purses, wallets, cash, laptops, expensive sun glasses, GPS units, radar detectors, cell phones, or any other easy-to-carry valuables in your vehicle cabin.
• Keep it tidy and never leave valuables in plain sight! Lock all valuables in the trunk or take them with you.
• Conceal all the evidence: Remove detachable stereos and faceplates from your vehicle and bring them with you when you park it unattended.
• When equipment or tools must be kept in a vehicle, use a strong-walled and/or tamper-proof box that can be bolted down and secured with heavy duty locks. Do not assume a box is secure merely because it is heavy.