Car theft is as rampant as always, despite all of the technology that goes into keeping vehicles safe. While many of these advances have helped to make it virtually-impossible to steal newer vehicles with old-school methods, thieves have been able to adapt. Let’s look at a few of the tricks they’re using these days and what you can do to protect your vehicle.
Blocked Parking Space
One of the most brazen, and increasingly-common tactics that thieves use is to identify a target car in a parking lot of a large store or mall before placing a PA announcement that asks for the owner to go outside. The usual ruse is that their vehicle is blocking another, or that their lights are on. The owner goes out to check their car, and they get jumped by thieves who then steal it. The simplest way to avoid being harmed by this scam is to ask security to go out with you. You can also take an indirect path to the vehicle to assess the situation before getting too-close. If you see anything out of the ordinary, or have a funny feeling, call the police.
Vin Number Copying
Car thieves have gotten pretty good at copying VIN numbers of vehicles, duplicating name plates, and sticking them on ones they stole. This gives the impression that their vehicle is legit, and they can even register new plates with this information. This tactic is commonly-used at car rental agencies, but more and more everyday people are being targeted as well. While this method isn’t foolproof, it often provides thieves with plenty of time to resell the vehicles before authorities get on their trail.
Most thieves who use this technique work in car washes, auto shops or other places where they can get easy access to the VIN. However, an increasing number of thieves are finding VINs on the Internet from auto trading websites as well. Others fish this information from individual owners through a variety of different methods. Do what you can to protect your VIN number, and always do a background check on vehicles that you are consider purchasing to reduce the chances of being caught up in this scam.
One of the most-common ways to steal cars from residential areas in the middle of the night is to hack alarm systems. All it takes is a little technological know-how and the right gadgets, and anyone can trigger a number of different alarm systems with the touch of a button. The owner is alerted to their alarm going off, they reset it, it goes off again, and most people just disarm it out of frustration, laziness or concerns of annoying the neighbors. Once the alarm is off, thieves can have easy access to stealing the vehicle. If your alarm goes off repeatedly for no apparent reason, don’t disarm it, keep an eye out for suspicious activity outside, and consider calling the police as well.
Aside from being vigilant, using common-sense and maintaining good situational awareness, there are two things that can be almost fool-proof with respect to stopping thieves dead in their tracks. One is to install a removable steering wheel that you can detach and take with you. Chances are that an opportunistic thief won’t have one on hand. The other is to install a kill switch that can be activated remotely. This should disable the vehicle, unless the thief has removed it beforehand.
Granted, these aren’t the most practical or affordable options, but they are pretty effective. However, just being mindful of these and other modern-threats can also help you to minimize risk as well. Take some time to evaluate your current level of anti-theft protection and adapt accordingly. Feel free to share some tips with the rest of us as well, and hopefully they can help all of us to reduce the chances of being victimized by car thieves.