Avoiding Grand Theft Auto

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

In the last few months, a few different people I know have had their vehicles stolen. In one case it was a nearly new GM pickup truck, with all the options. A second one was a 10-year-old Bentley sports car. Finally, there was a nicely restored Pontiac GTO. All three cars were parked at their owner’s homes when stolen, with the owners asleep in their beds.

I always thought it was rather unusual to actually know someone who had a car stolen, even though over a million cars are stolen per year in the United States. That works out to roughly 250 cars per 100,000 people in the population, making it much more common than I had realized.

This, of course, got me interested in cars being stolen and how to prevent it from happening. Surprisingly to me, the vast majority of these thefts happen at people’s homes, not at restaurants and shopping malls. That probably ties in directly with the majority of these thefts happening at night, after people have gone to bed. The top hour for theft is midnight to 1:00 am, with theft rates tapering off from there, both earlier and later.

One of the key things that adds to car theft statistics is the number of cars which are stored outdoors, rather than in the garage. In all three of the cases I mentioned above, the car was stored in the driveway, mostly because the garage was filled with other things. About 93 percent of homeowners use their garage for storage; so, even if they store one car in the garage, they don’t have room to store two of them there. That means that most people have at least one car parked outside, where thieves can easily gain access to it while the family sleeps.

On top of that, many newer cars, especially ones fitted out with all the whistles and bells, tend to have remotely keyed locks and motor start. While there are always security measures built in, along with these features, there are also devices that criminals can buy, which will help them overcome these security measures. Amazingly, there are some that even access the vehicle’s computer through the headlights of all places.

Even so, there are a number of things we can all do to help ensure the security of our vehicles. While they may seem frivolous or unnecessary, it only takes one person trying to get into a vehicle to show the need for those measures.

  1. Lock the car. This may seem overly simple, but thieves look for unlocked cars. I have an older car which the doors don’t lock on and someone gets into the car at least once every two months. There’s nothing to steal and they can’t pop the trunk, but I can tell they’ve been in there, looking for anything they can steal.
  2. Close the windows. Locked doors don’t do much good if the windows are open.
  3. Don’t leave keys in or near the car. Those magnetic key hiding cases must have been developed to help thieves, because that’s mostly what they do. The thieves know all the hiding places, most of which aren’t even hard to guess. One of the cars I mentioned above was stolen due to the spare key being easy to find.
  4. Park in a well-lit area. Thieves don’t want to be seen. Install security lights that illuminate your parking area at night.
  5. Use an audible alarm. Many newer cars come with an audible alarm installed; but they don’t all have them. If your car doesn’t, buy one and install it. The last thing any thief wants to do is attract attention.
  6. Use a tracking system. This is something found in many newer cars. It won’t stop a car from being stolen, but if it is, it will be possible to track the car and see where they’ve taken it. That makes it much more likely that you’ll get your car back.
  7. Use a vehicle immobilizer system. We used to install a hidden switch on the car, wired into the ignition, that prevented the ignition from working, unless the switch was in the on position. I’m not sure such a thing would work on newer cars, but there are immobilizer systems that can be bought and installed, making it impossible to start the car.
  8. Be alert. Granted, it’s rather hard to be alert when you’re asleep, but you can have a burglar alarm be alert for you, as well as the security devices mentioned above. Everything you can do, to make it harder for the thief, lowers the chance that they’ll go after your car.

There’s no perfect way to secure your vehicle, ensuring that it can’t get stolen. But the measured mentioned above will make it harder for a thief to get your vehicle and get away. That’s often enough, as they’re always looking for the easy steal. They don’t want to work at it and they don’t want to get caught. So, if we make it hard enough and/or increase the chances of them getting caught, they’ll probably go elsewhere.

Simple actions like this may not seem important; but they’re just as important as keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close as hand.

Dr. Rich

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