Life Hacks: The Vehicle Break-In Edition

By Brian Burt, Guest Columnist

You’re walking towards your car with the sun on your face and a fresh coffee in your hand, whistling a happy tune. It’s going to be a great day. But, just as you get to your ride, you see broken glass and your heart sinks.

A thief has shattered your window and your spirits in one fell swoop. Not only have you lost valuable belongings, but you feel personally violated and ask yourself, “Why me?”

You don’t realize it, but you might have accidentally made your car an easy target. Fortunately, there are a few easy tips that will deter thieves from choosing you in the future.

Show & Tell

Instincts probably tell you to cover up your belongings when you park, but that’s not always the best move. If you have valuable items, then those should definitely be out of view, preferably in your trunk. However, most of us have several completely worthless objects in our cars: old books, workout clothes, random shoes.

Instead of putting this stuff in bags, leave it out where any curious would-be thief can see exactly what it is. Your gym bag contains nothing but smelly clothes, but an optimistic thief may think it contains untold treasures that could be worth breaking your window to get. The same goes for shopping bags, briefcases or laptop bags.

Go Old School

We may scoff at preventative measures like The Club and pedal locks, but they deserve a second look. To understand why, try to think like a thief. Would you rather attempt to steal a car that has several barriers or none? Because many break-ins are actually attempts at stealing the car, and not just your stuff, you should consider these simple theft deterrents to make your car less tempting.

Get Rid of the Evidence

Experienced car thieves are not just looking for your actual valuable belongings; they’re also savvy enough to look for clues that valuables may be just out of sight. They know what an Apple charger looks like, and that it may be a sign of expensive Mac products in the trunk or the glove compartment.

Another popular stolen item is the ubiquitous GPS. Many GPS-owners keep the units attached to a windshield suction cup mount, which often leaves behind a tell-tale mark on the glass. Before you park, not only should you stash both the unit and the windshield mount, but you should also wipe down the glass where the mount was attached. It may sound paranoid, but you’re better safe than sorry.

Pre-Park Preparation

If you know that you’ll be leaving your car for a while, you should always prepare before you park. Many people make the mistake of taking precautionary measures once they’re already in their parking spot. This is risky, as your preparations could be under observation.

If a potential thief is watching, you’re basically showing him exactly where to go to access all of your valuable possessions. Instead, consider pulling over into a safe location a few blocks from your destination and stashing your goods then.

Fake it Till you Make it

If you have an alarm or can afford to have one installed, great. If not, however, add a couple of touches that will make potential thieves think you have one. Though cars with alarms do get broken into, alarms (or the threat of one) prevent many break-ins.

For just a few dollars, you can pick up a flashing LED light and an alarm sticker. While it won’t do anything in the case of an actual break-in, it just may be enough to stop someone from choosing your car. Remember, most thieves are looking for the easiest target.

Car break-ins are, unfortunately, a part of life for drivers. However, it’s easy to take a few precautions that will significantly lower the chances of a thief picking your vehicle. Combine these tricks with your usual routine to help keep you and your vehicle safe.

Brian Burt, a leader in Tampa Auto Glass and windshield repair, founded Trusted Auto Glass in 2002. Brian is constantly on the lookout for new techniques, technology and tips that will benefit his clients and interest his readers.

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