The good news is that modern anti-theft devices are making vehicles more difficult to steal. The bad news is that criminals are now more likely to try to steal your car while you’re still in it. Here are some ways to help you protect yourself.
- Whenever possible, ask a security officer to walk you to your vehicle if the shopping center or parking lot is dark or deserted.
- As you approach your vehicle, look underneath it to be sure no one is hiding there to grab your ankles or legs.
- Always have your car keys in hand before you get to your vehicle. Look in the back sear before getting in. Once inside, immediately lock all doors.
- Never leave anything of value in plain view inside your vehicle. It can tempt a criminal to wait for you to return.
- Don’t assume you’re safe from carjacking just because you drive an older or less expensive car. The average value of a stolen car is $4,000 and almost half are valued at less than $2,499.
- Beware of the bump-and-rob scam. This involves another vehicle bumping yours from behind. Your first impulse will be to get out and see if there was any damage. Don’t do it! Stay inside your vehicle, lock your doors and insist on moving to a public area to exchange information.
- Keep your windows closed and the doors locked at all times to prevent criminals from reaching through an open window or jumping into the vehicle when you are stopped at a traffic light.
- Always choose well lit, active areas whenever you park your car, stop to use a phone, get gas or ask directions.
- Carry a large flashlight with you if you must park in an area that may be dark or deserted when you return. It can double as a weapon.
If your vehicle breaks down, turn on the emergency flashers, raise the hood, place a white cloth in the window or put up a “Call Police” sign. Then, stay inside the car with the doors locked. If anyone stops to help, stay in the locked vehicle and ask him or her to call the police.