How to prevent car theft
A car is an expensive investment and buying one usually takes a lot of careful thinking, selection of alternatives and calculation of costs. Nobody wants to end up realizing that all the time and money invested simply disappeared from the parking lot or the garage. This is why many car owners worry about how to protect their car from theft.
As of mid 90s the police have kept detailed records of car theft cases in Serbia. The year 1998 holds the infamous record of 7,691 cases of stolen cars, out of which of 5,241 happened in Belgrade. Nowadays in Serbia about six cars get stolen every day, half of which in Belgrade.
The way a car is stolen depends on the value of the car and the profile of the thief. In most cases, inexpensive cars get stolen by drug addicts who do not possess sophisticated tools but usually pick locks and start the car by hot-wiring. Stolen cars get disassembled for parts or for executing other acts of crime. To the second type of thieves belong those who are more educated and possess various burglary tools. Once stolen, cars are also sold in parts or have their chassis numbers masked. In some cases, thieves try to extort money from the car owners. Organized groups that steal expensive luxury cars and sell them abroad belong to the third type of thieves. Such cars usually get picked up and pulled away undamaged under cover of a parking or a towing service. Juveniles who steal cars for fun and to show off belong to the fourth type. Luckily, juveniles usually leave the car once it runs out of gas.
The answer to the question how to prevent cat theft isn’t simple at all simply because no safety measure is 100% reliable. However, you can try and do whatever is in your power to make the job more difficult for the thieves once they realize they will need more time to overcome all the obstacles. This means combining as many safety measures as you can, and here are some available options that can be roughly divided into mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical protection means blocking the wheel or the transmission.
Blocking the wheel - The physical protection that is placed on the wheel itself proved to be unreliable as the thieves rip it along with the wheel and steer by using a key placed in its stead. Moreover, this kind of protection often deforms and damages the wheel itself so car owners have begun avoiding it.
Another, more subtle way is to block the spindle which usually goes together with electronic blocking of the engine, independently of the car’s computer system. Although this means of protection is considered more reliable, it can be broken if the thief has enough time to deal with it.
Blocking the transmission - This kind of protection proved to be undependable because you can start and move the car by pressing the clutch pedal although the gear stick is placed in gear.
Electronic protection means installing alarms, satellite monitoring, hidden switches and displacing and replacing the OBD connector.
Alarm - Although it can’t be considered as a completely reliable means of protection, it is recommended to have at least a basic alarm that will put off petty thieves. More sophisticated alarm systems go with some form of electronic protection so if you own an expensive car it is advisable to invest some extra money in it.
Satellite monitoring - There are firms that offer you satellite monitoring services so should your car get stolen, at least you will have bigger chance of locating it. Unfortunately, there are devices that can obstruct the satellite signal so if the thieves know that you use one, they can override this difficulty with the right tools.
Hidden switches - Serve to cut off the power from the battery or the fuel coming from the tank once you park the car. It is recommended to hide the switches so that it is only you who know where they are, and even install false switches that will confuse the thieves and make them lose more time. For this kind of intervention you should turn to an electrician.
OBD connector - An OBD connector serves to connect the service computer with the main car computer system. Thieves take seconds to break into the main computer via a standard OBD connector and start the car with their own card. For that reason it is advisable to have it replaced by a non-standard connector with a different location of pins and relocate it to a place where it will be difficult for the thief to find it. The adapter that brings the system back to default settings goes with you and you should take it when you have your car serviced.
Advice for car owners
Fuel tank cap - Pay attention to the fuel tank cap and see if it is missing. Thieves can remove the cap and make a key with which they will open the vehicle.
Theft „on the go“ - Never leave your car unlocked, even if you are leaving it just to buy something from the nearest newsstand, because the numbers of thefts „on the go“ are rising. A few seconds of negligence are enough to see your car drive away without you in it.
Fake buyers - Be careful if you are selling your car. In some cases, „potential buyers“ respond to your advert and use test driving as an opportunity to steal the car.
Kasko insurance - This type of insurance offers various policies, one of which is the possibility for a payout if your car gets stolen or damaged in an attempt of theft. Bear in mind that you will not receive the amount you paid when you bought the car, but the amount the car was worth at the moment when it got stolen.
An overall advice when it comes to protecting your car from theft is to combine as many different types of protection as possible. That way you will lower the chances to have your car stolen simply because the thief would need to invest more time and effort and may as well decide to switch to an „easier prey“. The more valuable the car is the more money should be invested into protecting it from theft and securing a good garage. We also suggest that you think about insurance because that way you would at least be able to retrieve one part of the money in case the car gets stolen anyway.
We hope that you find these pieces of advice useful. If you have any questions, doubts or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us.