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10 Ways to Decrease Your Risk of Car and Tire Theft

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Many states, including California, experienced an increase in car thefts throughout 2022. Those desperate enough will use anything they can get their hands on when given the opportunity, from tire stealing to removing gas straight out of your tank. Learning how to prevent car theft with our top 10 tips can help you avoid becoming a statistic.


1. Keep Your Car Locked

This should seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of leaving your car unlocked as you drive or park in a relatively safe area. Always lock your vehicle, even if you’re actively driving. This reduces the chance that a thief could try to carjack you at a red light or stop sign.

Most newer cars automatically lock the doors whenever the vehicle is moving at more than 5 miles per hour or if the car is taken out of the parking gear.

Ensure that all windows, including the sunroof, are completely shut before you exit the vehicle. Lock your vehicle and double-check it’s locked after you park. If you need to enter your car to grab something out of the trunk while parked at home, be sure you lock it again after.


2. Park Smart

Choose your parking spot carefully as a criminal’s job is easier in dark or secluded areas. In the evening, look for bright parking lots with plenty of other people around.

Alternatively, park under streetlights to deter tire thieves. No criminal wants to be seen stealing tires off your vehicle one by one under well-lit conditions. In the daytime, avoid dark alleyways or back corners of parking garages for the same reasons.

In parking lots, look for security cameras and try to park within the camera’s line of sight. This should help deter anyone from targeting your car. If the thief does steal your car, however, a surveillance video of the area gives you a better chance to identify the thief and may ultimately lead to recovering your vehicle.


3. Avoid Storing Valuables

Never keep valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be spotted, as this is an easy way to become a target. It’s easy for a criminal to break a window and steal your valuables when they’re left on the seat or your dashboard. While your car may be left behind in this scenario, you’ll still need to deal with a broken window and lost valuables. To reduce your chances of a break-in, keep your car clean. If a thief sees an empty, clean car, they might be less likely to believe you have valuables hidden in your vehicle.

Usually, storing items in the trunk is the safest bet. However, if you plan to make multiple stops throughout the day, store items in your trunk before you reach your next destination. Often, robbers are sitting in parking lots, scoping out cars and watching the actions of others. Reducing the number of times you open your trunk and expose your stashed belongings could prevent your car from becoming a target.

If you’re wondering “does car insurance cover theft if my car is broken into and my belongings are taken?” It’s actually your homeowners or renters policy that would cover items taken from your vehicle. Most minimum auto policies don’t cover theft, so you’d need to have comprehensive coverage on your policy to cover the theft of your vehicle or the tires.


4. Turn the Car Off

A quick trip into a gas station convenience store or to pick up your child from school may not seem like it warrants turning off your vehicle. After all, you’re only going in for a second. Thieves are aware that people tend to leave their vehicles running in these situations.

A parked car that’s unlocked and still running is a prime target for criminals. An easy step for car theft prevention is to turn off the ignition, take your keys, and lock the car, even for a short trip into a store or at a rest area on a long drive.


5. Use Physical Anti-Theft Devices

Most modern cars come with a range of anti-theft devices. Alarms and automatic locks make it easy to reduce the chance of theft. There are more tools you can use, however, to further decrease your chances of becoming a theft victim. For example, consider a physical steering wheel lock to make it almost impossible for a thief to drive the car.

Your wheels are even more prone to theft, thanks to their relative ease of removal. Make it harder for a criminal to take them by purchasing a lug nut lock or tire boot. These wheel theft protection devices make it nearly impossible to remove the tire.


6. Be Aware

Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, even in familiar neighborhoods. You never know when car thieves have come into your neighborhood looking for an easy target. If you see something out of place, contact the authorities to let them know.


7. Avoid High-Crime Areas

Just as you should stay alert in safe areas, you can reduce your risk of theft by avoiding areas of high crime altogether. If you know a neighborhood is notorious for car theft, try to park elsewhere. A few extra minutes of driving could protect your car and save you thousands to replace it.

Also do your best to be aware of high-crime areas when you go on a vacation. Your vacation checklist should include researching the areas you’re traveling to and looking into how to stay safe while you’re there.


8. Know Where Your Keys are Located

You probably imagine a car thief as a shady criminal you’ve never met, but a car thief could be someone you already know. Did you leave spare car keys with a repair facility, car detailer, or valet?

Remain aware of your vehicle key location when service people are in your home. Too many Americans make the mistake of putting a key ring right near the door. Anyone coming to your front door could simply swipe your keys while you’re not looking.


9. Turn Your Wheels

Turning your wheels, especially near a curb, makes it incredibly difficult for a thief to take your car tires or your car altogether. Turned wheels are more difficult to steal because the fender often gets in the way of removing the lug nuts. If the thief tries to take the entire vehicle, they’ll run into the issue of a locked steering wheel.


10. Make Sure Everything Works

Your anti-theft alarm and door locks aren’t going to help keep your car safe if they’re not working. Regular maintenance is important to keep your car running smoothly. It can also be a good chance to check your electrical systems. For example, if you have alert lights on your dashboard, such as the check engine light, take the car to a reputable mechanic right away to make sure all systems are working properly.


Understand Your Car Insurance

We’ve armed you with the top tips to help with wheel and car theft prevention. Check your policy to see if car theft is covered. If it’s not, you might want to consider adding comprehensive coverage. An optional coverage, comprehensive adds protection against theft and other damages.

If you’re interested in adding comprehensive coverage to your policy, call Wawanesa today and let one of our helpful agents assist you. the additional premium is worth it for the peace of mind it provides.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.