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:
- Steering wheel lock
- Glass breakage detector
- Car security system
- Protective steering columns
- Car-disabling locks
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.