Courtesy Arizona Auto Theft Authority
The "Layered Approach" to Protection
Professional thieves can steal any car, but make them work for yours. To prevent thefts, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends "Layered Protection."
The more layers of protection on your vehicle, the more difficult it is to steal. The number of layers your vehicle needs varies depending on your vehicle and geographic location. Your budget and personal preferences should determine which anti-theft device is best for you.
Layer 1 – Common Sense
An unlocked vehicle with a key in the ignition is an open invitation to any thief, regardless of which anti-theft device you use. The common sense approach to protection is the simplest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. Lock your car - half of all vehicles stolen are left unlocked
- Take your keys – nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen have the keys in them
- Park in well-lit areas – car thefts occur at night more than half the time
- Park in attended lots – car thieves do not like witnesses.
- Do not leave your vehicle running and unattended.
- Completely close your car windows.
- Do not leave valuables in plain view.
- Do not hide a spare set of keys in the car - the pros know where to look.
- Park with your wheels turned toward the curb.
- Always use your emergency brake when parking.
- If you have a garage, use it – when you do, lock both the vehicle and the garage door.
Layer 2 – Warning Device
The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected.
Popular second layer devices include audible alarms, steering wheel locks, steering column locks, brake locks, tire locks
Watch Your Car decals. Identification markers in or on vehicle. Protective Window Laminate Microdots applied to various surfaces on vehicle, which are imprinted with identification information.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on vehicle windows.
Layer 3 – Immobilizing Device
This third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity of fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated.
Popular third layer devices include: Smart keys High security locks & keys Fuse cut-offs kill switches, starter, ignition and fuel disablers.
Layer 4 – Tracking Device
The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to a police or monitoring station when the vehicle is reported stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.
Passive and Active Anti-Theft Systems Passive and active anti-theft devices are the two options available when considering an anti-theft system. Passive devices automatically arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the ignition key removed, or a door is shut.
No additional action is required. Active devices require some independent physical action before they are set, such as pushing a button, or placing a "lock" over a vehicle component part. This physical action must be repeated every time the anti-theft devices is set or it will not function.
While you may not be able to prevent your vehicle from being stolen, despite every precaution, you can take many of the following steps in advance. Being prepared may ultimately help law enforcement recover your vehicle more quickly and reduce your expenses.
If you discover that your vehicle has been stolen, notify law enforcement immediately. Speed is essential in recovering stolen cars; any delay in reporting only helps the thieves. Be prepared to provide the vehicle's make, model, color, license plate number, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
Keep a photocopy of your vehicle registration and insurance card in your wallet or at home. This will enable you to provide information quickly to law enforcement and your insurance claims agent.
Make your vehicle easier to identify. One way is to write your initials on an index card and drop it in the window slot, or carefully engrave your initials inside the trunk, hood, or even the dashboard near the VIN number. Etch the VIN number on all window glass of the vehicle.
Review your insurance policy annually. Don't wait until after your vehicle is stolen to find out you don't have the coverage you think you have. Owners are advised to review their auto insurance policies once a year, including coverage you must have, coverage you'll probably need, and additional types of coverage, including roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.
Exercise caution if you see someone tampering with your car. Call 911 as quickly as possible.