Having spent the majority of my auto-owning years as a San Francisco resident without a garage, I’ve come to accept the dread that accompanies the walk to my street parked car. I’ve seen countless break-ins and heard horror stories of thefts, so every time I see my dear old vehicle safe and sound where I left her, I breathe a sigh of relief. But all this hoping and wishing had me wondering if I could be doing something more to deter thieves and keep my car a little safer. Here are some of the best — and easiest — car theft prevention tips I’ve found:
- Lock the doors — for real. I know, this one is ridiculously simple, but you’d be surprised how many people forget or just think they don’t have to lock their doors. Take the two-second task seriously and make sure you do it every time, even if you’re just popping out for a quick errand.
- Always take your keys with you. This may sound like another “duh” tip, but again, it’s so straightforward, many of us neglect to take it seriously. Always take your keys out of the ignition when you exit your car and keep them with you — that includes every convenience store run, gas station fuel-up, and post office drop-off.
- Remove everything — and I mean everything — from your car seats. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories from friends who’ve had their car windows smashed after leaving a work bag, sunglasses, or any other potentially costly item in plain sight. But it’s not only big ticket possessions that can draw the eye of a thief — if possible, take everything out of your car and stash any necessary, must-have items in the glove compartment or trunk.
- Circle until you find a well-lit parking spot. My neighborhood is fortunately pretty well lit, but my boyfriend’s town is pretty much in a perpetual blackout after sundown. Even if it takes a few minutes longer, look for a parking spot that’s in as well lit and highly trafficked of an area as possible.
- Install some tech tools. If you’re already a Metromile customer, congrats! The Smart Driving app and the Pulse device are built-in trackers that have helped countless customers locate their stolen vehicles. If you’re not a Metromile customer (maybe now’s the time to switch?) and/or you want some added peace of mind, consider investing in some anti-theft technology like an immobilizer that can help prevent hot wiring by keeping the engine from running without the correct transponder car key.
- Stay alert. Most of us are in the habit of immediately checking what we’ve missed in the news, on social media, or in our texts the second we park (if not before that!). But being aware of your surroundings when you exit your vehicle may help you sense if your surroundings feel unsafe and give you the opportunity to find a new spot before it’s too late.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But for those times when the worst happens, and you need a car insurance partner who has your back — Metromile will be here.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.