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7 Ways to Prevent Car Break-Ins

If you’ve ever arrived at your car and seen glass shattered, you feel it in the pit of your stomach as you realize you’ve been a victim of a car break-in. Worse, you may realize your car is completely gone and has been stolen. Dealing with car burglary can be unsettling. Having your items taken from you and replacing broken windows or more can be frustrating too. 

If you live in a major city, you probably know the obvious tips of how to prevent your car from being broken into or stolen. You know that leaving a bag visible is thief bait, and a rogue phone is even more enticing. But with break-ins on the rise, it’s probably a smart idea to take extra precautions. In fact, in San Francisco alone, there was a staggering 753% increase in car break-ins from May 2020 to May 2021 according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Given the fact that cars may be staying in place longer due to people driving less while working from home, you want to make moves to protect your car. Here is how to prevent car break-ins.


1. Lock the car doors and make sure your windows are completely closed 

The first thing you want to do to prevent car break-ins is to double-check that your car is actually locked and that your windows are completely closed. Although this may seem obvious, up to 25% of vehicle thefts are from unlocked cars. Similarly, an open window invites the same fate. Even if you’re doing a quick run inside a gas station, that’s still enough time for a thief to make moves. 

2. Invest in an anti-theft device 

If you want to take your car burglary prevention to the next level, you want to invest in an anti-theft device. A car alarm is the first level of thief-deterrent, but there are many other preventive measures you can take. For example, there are several anti-theft devices you can choose from:

Using one or more of these options can help you take steps to prevent car break-ins and car burglary. On top of that, using an anti-theft device can help lower your car insurance rate, too. 

3. Park in populated areas with lots of light

If you leave your car on a dark, lonely street there may be a higher chance of a car break-in without anyone around to notice. That’s why it’s best to park in populated areas with lots of other people and cars and in areas with lots of lighting as well. 

Parking directly under a street lamp is a good idea when possible. Those who break into cars and also steal thrive on darkness and having no one around, so take these steps to help mitigate risk. 

4. Hide all of your belongings 

The common advice to avoid car break-ins is to hide your valuables. But to go even further, you should hide all of your belongings, whether they’re truly valuable to you or not. Why? Because a car thief or burglar doesn’t know the difference until they break into your car and find out. 

I once left a bottle of shampoo and conditioner in a bag in my car. The next morning I went to my car, the window was broken and the bag was gone. I couldn’t care less about those items being gone, but having to get the window replaced was a hassle and extra money. Your best bet is to keep next to nothing in your car. Your second-best bet is to keep things in the trunk or glove compartment, so they’re out of sight for any potential intruders. 

5. Get your windows tinted 

Given the fact that car break-ins can happen after nosy intruders see something they potentially want in your window, it can also be a good idea to get your windows tinted. Adding a darker hue to your window can make it difficult to see through the windows, acting as a barrier to would-be car thieves. 

Just be sure to check the local state guidelines and laws about window tinting to make sure you’re in compliance. 

6. Make inside and outside less appealing 

If you want to know how to prevent car break-ins, you need to make the inside and outside of your car less appealing. That means no flashy signs or decals, expensive gear, or even an upgraded stereo. While a really good stereo while driving can make listening to tunes fun as you drive down the road, a really sweet stereo system is just asking to be stolen. 

If you have a faceplate, you might want to remove it when you’re not in the vehicle just to be safe. Though an NPR article in 2009 noted that car stereo theft was on the decline and cut in half from the previous 15 years, you still want to be careful. 

The key is to make sure your car looks basic and minimal on the inside and outside to attract less attention. Also, don’t think you’re off the hook if you have an older vehicle. 

Older and stereotypical “family cars” are more desirable to a thief because of the demand and resale value of the car parts and the fact that they may be easier to steal. In fact, as of 2017 in Spokane, the car stolen the most was a 90s Subaru Legacy, according to this article from King5.

7. Avoid leaving the car unattended 

Think you’ll just double park and leave your car unattended and running, while you hop into your apartment to get the gym bag you forgot? Think again. At all costs, avoid leaving your car running and unsupervised. That’s an invitation for trouble and in a way that makes it super easy to do a car break-in or just straight-up steal your car. 

The bottom line 

Figuring out how to prevent car break-ins can take some work but it’s worth the extra precautions. If you’ve had a car break-in or car burglary, check your auto insurance coverage. If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, that could cover you in the event that your car is damaged during a robbery. You want to check your policy for specific details, but if you only have liability insurance, you won’t be covered. 

In the unfortunate event that your car is stolen, you can follow these steps. If you’re a pay-per-mile insurance customer with Metromile, your Metromile Pulse device doubles as a car locator. We’ve used it to recover stolen cars in the past!

Not a Metromile customer but want added car break-in protection? Get that and potentially a lower car insurance premium. Get your free quote and pay only for the miles you drive plus a low base rate. 

Tips for a Drama Free Valet

Picture this: you’ve cruised around the block a few times looking for parking, but you’re going to be late for your dinner reservation if you don’t park your car soon. You notice a parking valet but have no idea what to do. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, which is why we’ve compiled some tips for you to get through valet parking drama free. Often times, especially in larger cities, valet parking can be faster and more affordable than street parking or parking in a parking garage.


Tip in cash. Many people avoid valet parking because they’re unsure of how much to tip. Even if the hotel or restaurant you’re at offers complimentary valet service, have cash on hand for a tip. It’s expected you tip the valet that retrieves your car but you’re entrusting your vehicle with a stranger so leave the valet who takes your car at drop off an unexpected tip as well. If they feel they’ve been treated well, they’re likely to take better care of your items. $2-$5 is pretty standard so expect to tip $4-$10 total for valet parking.
Tidy up and tuck away valuables. Anticipate that you might end up valet parking and clean your car up a little bit so that you’re not embarrassed to hand over the keys. If you have valuables in the car, leave them at home, or tuck them in the trunk or out of sight. Make sure you have everything you’re going to need before you get out of the car!
Know how to handle the drop-off. Drop off and pick up moves quickly, so pay attention to the valet instructions and drive safely and slowly. Leave the car running and don’t take your keys out of the ignition. Let the valet know if there are any problems with the car and confirm price, closing time and how to get your car back. Lastly, don’t leave your car until you’ve been given a claim ticket!
Pick up and pay. It can take 10-20 minutes for the valet to get your vehicle. Always consider calling ahead, especially if you’re at a hotel or a busy restaurant or if you have to be somewhere at a specific time. When you’re ready to leave, find the valet stand and pay your bill. Sometimes hotels will charge your room bill but the head valet will confirm. If it’s complimentary, just don’t forget to tip for service!
Check for damage. In the rush to leave, don’t forget to check for damage or missing valuables before you drive away! If you see any damage or notice any lost items, let the head valet know immediately. Most valet companies will cover these situations but it’s much harder to get compensation if you don’t notice until you are home.

Having trouble finding your car or want to check in to see where it’s parked? Use Metromile’s car location tracker to find your car. Metromile’s smart driving app gives you information on trips and trends, fuel levels, car health diagnoses and more, and is free for all of our pay-per-mile insurance customers. Learn more here!

Street Sweeping Alerts Now Available in Los Angeles & San Diego

Many of us are all too familiar with the sinking feeling you get when you find that dreaded ticket on your dash because you parked in a street sweeping zone. Here at Metromile, we’re on a mission to make car ownership as easy as possible, which is why we are excited to announce that our street sweeping alerts are now available in San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area!

street sweeping alerts

We’ve already issued more than 28,000 alerts in San Francisco and Chicago and saved customers an average of $1.8 million in parking tickets. Now, customers in San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area can avoid those pricey tickets as well. In the past year, there have been nearly 650,000 street sweeping citations issued in the city of Los Angeles, 70,000 in Santa Monica, and 25,000 in West Hollywood. At $63-$73 per ticket, that means that residents in the greater Los Angeles area have spent more than $53 million in street sweeping ticket fines. We’re here to do something about that- your money can definitely be put to better use! Trying out that new restaurant or going to a concert with your friends is much better than paying for a pesky parking ticket.

Metromile customers in select cities can take advantage of the alerts. We use city data and internal information to determine if your car is parked in a street-sweeping zone, and, if so, you will receive a push notification 12 hours before the scheduled street cleaning. If you miss the first alert, there will be a second alert with one hour to spare.

LA and SD are the first of many stops on our roadmap as we expand coverage for our sweeping alerts and other smart services. Learn more about our free smart driving app, and if you are also interested in saving money with per-mile insurance you can get started here. Here’s to the last of those street sweeping tickets!

How to Park: West Coast Edition


Parking in the city is not an easy feat. Whether you are rushing to a dinner reservation or visiting a friend for the weekend, finding a parking spot is nothing short of a headache. While we can’t help you snag a secret spot or dispute your parking ticket, we can give you tips on what to expect when you’re in these west coast cities.


city parking


San Francisco
There is a lot crammed into this 7×7 mile city, which means parking can be quite challenging. If you do find a coveted spot, the good news is that most meters take credit cards so you don’t have to search in the depths of your bag for stray quarters. Certain neighborhoods are even experimenting with on-demand pricing, which means rates may vary by block, time of day and day of the week, and can be adjusted +/- 50 cents per hour. The other good news is that Metromile’s street sweeping alerts are available in SF, which alerts you if your car is parked in a street sweeping area so you can move it in time. When you park, don’t forget to curb your wheels on any street that has a 3% grade or higher (which is pretty much the entire city). This is something visitors often don’t realize and is easy to ticket for.

Los Angeles
If you are in LA, it might be even harder to find a spot since the majority of the city’s population owns a car. Downtown LA also has on-demand pricing and you can see how much you can expect to pay on the LA Express Park website. If you can’t find a spot and are in a time crunch, there are plenty of lots and valet options throughout the metropolitan area, although it could cost you close to $40 for the day. Luckily, most business will validate parking bringing the costs down significantly. And if you do find a spot on the street, make sure you know what the color of the curb means to avoid getting a ticket!

If you do find on-street parking in Portland keep in mind there are two types of parking meters – the SmartMeter pay station and the coin-operated meter – so don’t get rid of that quarter stash just yet. The city also owns six downtown SmartPark garages which are the most affordable parking lot options. Pro tip: some businesses will even validate two hours of free SmartPark parking with qualifying purchases. If you aren’t near a SmartPark garage, private lots could cost you around $22 for the day.

You’re in luck: Seattle is probably the easiest of these cities to find parking in. There is a fair amount of on-street parking, and both coins and credit cards are accepted at all meters. You can even pay by phone to eliminate the need to attach a receipt to your car.

There are also plenty of new innovations popping up to help alleviate city parking, such as Zirx and Luxe which provide on-demand valet service. Of course, you could always take Uber or public transportation and forget about parking entirely. And don’t forget to download the Metromile driving app to use our car locator if you forget where you parked!