Auto theft and burglary is rampant in the United States.
In Austin alone, 4,338 vehicles were stolen and 8,635 were burglarized in 2016. There is often little evidence that can lead to an arrest and the vehicle owners incur all fees related to towing and storing their recovered vehicles. Having your vehicle stolen or burgled is certainly not a situation you want to find yourself in.
The good news? Auto theft and burglary is largely preventable.
Here is what Austin Police Department's Auto Theft Unit recommends you do to protect your car and prevent car theft:
Lock Your Doors
Believe it or not, more than half of stolen vehicles in Austin were left unlocked. Simply locking your door every time you park your car, even when it's on your own property, is an easy and a significant step towards preventing auto theft and burglary.
Keeping valuables out of sight from someone peering into your car through your windshield or through your passenger's windows will make your car less enticing. Keep your laptop, tablet, smartphone, purse, wallet, and any other valuables locked in the trunk or take them out of your car completely.
Never Leave Your Car Running and Unattended
Not even for a minute. Not only is this an invitation for thieves, it’s also against the law. Did you know that you can be fined up to $200 dollars for leaving the key in the ignition of your unattended vehicle?
Section 545.404 of the Texas Transportation Code states that a driver may not leave his or her vehicle unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key from the ignition.
Park in Well Lit Areas
If possible, opt to park your car in well-lit public parking lots or on neighborhood side streets with street lamps at night or in low-light conditions. A home or business security camera can capture more details surrounding your vehicle when it is well-lit, and thieves may not want to risk attempting to break into your vehicle if it is under a spotlight.
Avoid Leaving Spare Keys
Although it is convenient, it is risky to leave a spare key on top of a wheel, in a wheel well, or with a magnetic hide-a-key case. It would be easy for a thief to inconspicuously check the vehicle for a spare key and steal valuables or drive away with your car without alarming passerby. Leave spare keys in a secure place at home and with trusted friends and family.
Invest in a Security System
Vehicle tracking, alarm systems and sensors that detect motion tampering or glass breakage, like a high-tech dash cam, can both deter theft and help track your car if it’s stolen.
Hardwiring a dash cam with a parking mode feature in your vehicle will be able to detect motion or impact and save the video recording for you.
Sometimes, just the blinking blue recording light on a dash cam or other car security system or a warning sticker that notifies passerby that your vehicle is under surveillence is enough to deter a break-in.
Engrave Your VIN
Engraving your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on your car windows, major parts, and expensive accessories make your car less desirable to thieves who want to sell it for parts. Austin Police Department offers this service for free and some insurance companies offer discounts to clients who get their VIN etched.
This post was created in partnership with the Austin Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit.
For more information on auto theft prevention, visit Austin Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit website.