You can't stop a professional car thief but you can slow them down. If there
are enough deterrents, they may
just look someplace else for a car to steal. Time is your main weapon. The
longer it takes to steal the car,
the greater the chance that it won't be stolen. Lower car insurance quotes is another
"not so obvious" benefit of having a security system.
Here's a collection of tips on how to prevent your vehicle from being stolen:
- Car alarm window stickers
You need to make the car thief aware that there is an alarm system installed.
Use alarm stickers on the
windows. Do not use alarm stickers that indicate which alarm system is being
used. The less that the car thief
knows about the alarm system, the better it is for you.
- Visual alarm indicator LEDs
Make sure that you have an active alarm LED(s) that are clearly visible that
will let the car thief know that
an alarm is present and active. The indicators should be visible from a
distance. The idea is that you want to
discourage the car thief and prevent damage to the vehicle. You don't need
broken windows or damaged door locks
to be the trigger that tells the car thief that there is an alarm installed.
- Car alarm system
You need a car alarm system that will wake the dead and attract attention when
it goes off. Here's a list of
the minimum requirements for the alarm system:
- Ignition disconnect - prevents the engine from running
- Remote fobs with changing security codes - prevents car thief from using a
same model fob and defeating
your alarm system.
- Visual alarm - park lights, head lights flash on alarm
- Audible alarm - loud siren of some type
- Door opening detection
- Hood opening detection
- Glass breaking detection
- Motion sensors - not too sensitive so that they go off every 1/2 hour.
- Time limit required to enter in access code when door is openned - even
though you have a remote fob (which
a thief can steal), you should have to enter in an access code to disable the
- Strobe light alarm indicator
I've often heard car alarms going off in parkades and couldn't see which car
was alarming. I figure that if
you could use the strobe lights that unmarked police vehicles use in the turn
signals for an indicator. They
are bright enough to see easily in the daytime. How about putting one in the
dome light so that the whole
interior lights up?
- Interior audible alarm
I figure that if the car alarm is going to go off. Someone is trying to get or
has gotten inside the vehicle.
So why not stick a siren inside? Make it as unpleasant for the thief as
- Separate battery for the alarm system
One of the first things that a car thief will do is to try and disconnect the
battery. Normally, the alarm
system is tied into the battery so they will try to cut the battery cable. Use
a hidden 12V motorcycle
battery for the alarm system.
- Main battery disconnect
Have a manual battery disconnect switch on the main battery positive terminal.
If the car thief disables the
alarm, then he won't be able to start the car. There are some disconnects that
allow you to take part of the
switch away with you so that the thief cannot turn the switch back on. Hide the
switch so that it is hard to
find but easy to use.
- Electric fuel pump disconnect
If you are running an electric fuel pump, tie the 12V supply line into the
alarm system or provide a manual
disconnect switch. The car can't run without fuel.
- Locking gas cap
Put a locking gas cap on your car so that even if it is stolen, they will have
a hard time to fill it up.
- Locking hood mechanism
This should go without saying but a lot of the older cars don't have locking
hood mechanisms. Nobody should
be able to get under the hood except for the owner. The hood mechanism should
not be accessible from under the
vehicle. Blocking plates should prevent anyone from defeating it.
- Wheel locks
Each wheel should have a wheel lock on it to prevent/slow down the theft of
your tires and rims. You are trying
to make your car as undesirable as possible to the car thief.
- Steering wheel lock
A good long steering wheel lock should be used to prevent the steering wheel
from turning. The idea is to make
it impossible to drive or turn the direction of the wheels (more on this
later). A good steering wheel lock
should cover the steering wheel shaft nut and prevent it from being removed. It
takes less than a minute to
remove a steering wheel when you don't car about damaging it. It wouldn't be
too hard for a car thief to have
his own steering wheel for replacement.
- Brake pedal lock
There are combination steering wheel/brake locks which lock the steering wheel
to the brake pedal. They prevent
either from being used. This is a good thing as long as the steering wheel
lock meets the above criteria.
- Shaved door handles and locks
This is popular with the kustom crowd (like me) and adds to the security. Key
locks can be easily openned
using something as simple as hair stylist scissors. If there are no key locks,
then how will they get defeat
the lock system?
- Remote door locks
This goes hand in hand with the shaved door locks. You need locks and a way of
opening them. Most alarms have
extra buttons for optional control of things, so use them to open the door
- Smooth cylindrical door lock knobs
You don't want to be able to open your doors using a coat hanger. Change the
original door lock knobs to thin
cylindrical style which are difficult if not impossible to snag with a coat
- Door lock "Slim Jim" protection plates
Place protection plates over the locking mechanism in the doors to prevent a
Slim Jim tool from being used
to open the door. A Slim Jim tool is a thin piece of sheet metal with catch at
the end. It slips between the
window and weather stripping. It tries to catch the locking mechanism in the
door and by jimming it, unlocks
- Hide the ignition switch
If it is possible, hide the ignition switch in the dash, behind a hinged chrome
plate, etc.. One hot rodder
glued a knob on top of the key so that when the key was in the ignition switch,
it looked like a heater
If you have a steering column mounted ignition switch, find a security device
that protects it from being
pulled out with a slide hammer. I don't know if anyone makes something like
that but it is worth investigating.
- Hydraulic Brake lock
You can buy a hydraulic brake lock switch (line lock) that are used to lock the
front brakes when doing
burn outs. Lock the brakes to prevent the car from being moved.
So far we've assumed that the car thief is trying to start the car and drive it
away. What about the thief
who uses a flat bed, trailer or tow truck to steal your car.
- Always park with the wheels turned to their limits
This makes it harder for the vehicle to be moved if the front wheels are
- Take 2 parking spaces and park at an angle
Again, this makes it harder for the car to be towed away, especially if the
front wheels are turned also.
- Park in the open
Thieves love cover. I had the wheels stolen off my corvette when it was parked
between a van and a large
garbage bin. Ideal cover for the thief to work in.
- Park in a well lighted area
Thieves hate being seen and any way that you can make them more visible is a
- Motion detector lights
You can get outdoor motion detector lights that will shine on your driveway and
back yard. They are a much
better deterent than a light that is on all the time. They detect motion by the
movement of heat. When they
turn off and on, it indicates that their is movement of a person or animal. I
have mine cycle very quickly.
Did you know that you can get motion detector switches for replacing your
interior wall switches too? I put
one in my garage and as soon as any of the garage doors open, the lights turn
on. I can walk from the front of my
house to the backyard and into the garage and 3 sets of lights turn on
automatically. The motion detector
between my neighbor's house and mine turns on, the backyard motion detector
turns on and the inside garage
light motion detector turns on. It's great when your hands are full carrying
groceries or car parts.
- Don't make the hidden switches too awkward
Car thieves will case their victims. They will go to rod runs and car club
meetings to gather information.
They will watch you when you start your car to see what you are doing. If you
have to reach across the car
and open the dash each time you start your car, they'll know that there is
something in the dash. Place any
hidden switches close to the driver so that no unordinary body movements are
required or noticeable to use them.
- Do not discuss the alarm system when selling the car
Some car thieves will act as a potential buyer when you are selling your car.
They will be paying particular attention to how you disable your alarm system
when you show them your pride
and joy. Don't show anyone how the car alarm system works until the car is
- Repeating false car alarms
Thieves will trigger your car alarm to see what your reaction will be. They may
do this repeatedly
in the middle of the night in the hope
that you get fed up with the "false alarms" and turn off the alarm.
Eventually, they'll trigger the alarm and it won't
work cause you've turned it off for them.
- Man's Best Friend
Don't forget about the powerful message that your four-legged friend can pass along to any thieves trying to steal your ride.
Even if his bark is worse than his bite no one has to tell a potential car-jacker that your Fido loves nothing more than curling up
with his teddy bear. Just remember to think of Fido's well being and use a dog seatbelt
for his own protection.
- Tow vehicles
Don't think that just because your car is on a trailer hooked up to your tow
vehicle, that it is safe. Most
people have elaborate security systems on their pride and joy but simple alarm
systems or none on their
tow vehicle. It becomes easy to steal your tow vehicle along with the attached
trailer and car.
- Security through obscurity
Don't tell friends and strangers how your auto security works. The less people
know about your car security
methods, the less chance that the undesirables will find out.