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11 ways to stop your car being broken into

There’s always someone who wants what you’ve got, so your job is to make it more difficult for them. New Zealand has a fairly high rate of car crime and many people don’t take any steps to prevent it until it happens to them. This article has 11 techniques and tricks you can use to put thieves off and encourage them to look for an easier target.

  1. Always park in a place that is well-lit, preferably busy, and preferably has a security guard or is visible by a security camera. If you can’t do this, you can make it more difficult for thieves by parking your passenger-side doors very close to a wall to make it difficult for them to hide behind.
  2. Take your high-value items with you. This includes laptops and other electrical equipment, your wallet, cellphone and keys (don’t underestimate just how expensive it can be to have to have several locks rekeyed, or to have to get a locksmith out to get you into your house or flat).
  3. Make your car look empty. If you drive a station wagon or hatchback, if the boot is empty, leave the cargo blind open (if possible). If you do have to leave things in the car, leave them in the boot with the cargo blind or parcel shelf covering them, or put them in another storage area like the glovebox. Don’t just put a jacket or blanket over them as it doesn’t fool anyone. Plus, a jacket might have $20 value of Trade Me, so it’s worth stealing.
  4. If you know you’ll need to put things in the boot, but you aren’t comfortable with where you will have to park your car, stop several kilometers before your final destination and move your items to the boot (or your top box or panniers on a motorbike). Then when you arrive where you’re going to park, you won’t cause any suspicion amongst opportunist thieves who might see you putting bags or other items in your boot.
  5. Always lock your car when it’s unattended and make sure the windows are up. Never leave the keys in the ignition if you haven’t got at least one foot in the car. This includes locking your car in your driveway. Parking on shells or gravel on your driveway is a good deterrent as it’s noisy to walk on. If you park in a garage, don’t leave the keys in your car. Don’t leave your dog in your car if the temperature is above 16 degrees, and never leave a child unattended in your car as they can lock themselves in, release the handbrake and cause an accident.
  6. When you stop for fuel, take the keys out of your car and lock it when you go and pay.
  7. Get an alarm and immobiliser and make sure the sticker is on your window. This will make it much more uncomfortable for a thief to be in your car, and will reduce the chances of them taking it. Have the vehicle’s details etched onto the windows.
  8. Fit a wheel lock – it’s a big, chunky visual deterrent. Wheel locks go on a car steering wheel or a motorbike’s wheel or brake disc.
  9. Cars with small triangular windows at the back (rear quarterlight) are easier to break into because that window can be broken almost silently with the right tool. You might not know how to do it, but thieves will. Cars have other vulnerabilities such as older cars having weak locks and ignitions. Some scooters and motorbikes are easy to carry away – lock them to something solid.
  10. Learn your car’s storage areas. Some cars have hidden storage under the front seats or under the floor. These areas are often safer because it’s difficult for a thief to remember every vehicle’s configuration – they’ll know the glovebox and boot, but not necessarily the hidden compartment in the passenger seat. If you leave items in the glovebox, lock it – it’s not a strong lock, but it will delay them. Keep your glovebox and top box locked.
  11. Finally, let your neighbours know if your car has been tampered with because thieves often scout an area and then return to it over several nights.

Thieves want a nice easy life – they’re a thief because they’re lazy, not because they’re brainy. So, make it difficult for them to steal from you and they will move on.

The 12th way is to have this guy look out for you:

bear in car

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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Posted in Advice, Car
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