Preventing Vehicle Theft

When I lived and worked abroad, stealing a car from an Embassy rarely happened.  Stealing plates occurred more frequently, which caused a lot more angst given the possible use of the plates by terrorists.  Even over 15 years ago, however, I would have my official vehicles equipped with what was then state-of-the-art, and expensive, tracking and remote disabling devices.  The advent of new, cheaper, and smaller anti-car theft technology, and their prolific advertisement and use, should mean an overall decrease in vehicular crimes including car theft.  Not so.  The United States today has the worst rate of car theft compared to anywhere else in the world.  Thieves in the U.S. steal one car every 30 seconds, according to some insurance company estimates.  Our nearest “competitor” is the UK, with a car stolen every minute.

Car TheftToday’s anti-vehicle theft devices come in many forms.  Factory installed car alarms have been around a long time and are becoming “smarter” every year.  My Mazda has a proximity key, more and more common, which will not allow you to start the car unless the key is within range.  Car companies with services like On-Star put tracking devices and even remote disabling systems in virtually all makes and models of their company’s particular brands of cars and trucks.  There are tracking apps for smart phones and many other tech advances that can assist you in protecting your car.

However, technology does not stop one of the most common types of car thieves: the joyriders.  Statistics vary, but some cities report that joyriding accounts for up to 90% of all car thefts.  These thieves, usually teenagers or young adults, steal cars for the thrill of it.  They do not care about tracking devices or alarms, as they do not intend on keeping the car very long.  They break into it, take it for a ride, and then leave it somewhere.  Unfortunately, the car often suffers damage.  Sometimes the inexperienced or unlicensed joyriders total the cars.  Assuming you recover the car eventually, it may need thousands of dollars in repairs.

Like with home security however, common sense, mindset, and low tech can be just as effective in deterring thieves as high tech gadgets.  You want to make your car a “hard” target.

  • Whenever possible, park your car in your garage. This will ensure that your car is not going to be a target of opportunity for the amateur or professional thief.  Locking your car, never leaving it running, and closing your windows when parked may sound trite, but a surprisingly large number of car owners fail to follow one or more of these common sense tips.
  • Keep your car in good repair. Broken windows repaired with duct tape, dents, dings and an unkempt interior invites the casual thief to break in.  If you do not have an alarm, use some simple subterfuge and pretend you do.  Put a sticker on the window warning thieves that an alarm and tracking device protects your car.  The pros will think twice about stealing the car, and amateurs may go to the next one instead.
  • Do not leave valuables in sight. Put away briefcases, laptops, phones, GPS devices and anything else that may be attractive to thieves, in the truck or glove box.  This includes spare change.  You would be surprised how often thieves break into cars to steal small items, and decide to pry out the radio or take the car for a spin.

Tech is great and useful.  You do not always need new technology to safeguard your property.  Use common sense.  Follow these simple tips and your car will be less likely to become a “car-stolen-every-thirty-seconds” statistic.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bill Gaskill

Mr. Gaskill has over 20 years of extensive international experience with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, followed by 10+ years in the corporate sector.During his career at State, he developed and led comprehensive security programs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.He was Chief of Security at five U.S. Embassies:Tel Aviv, Athens, Lima, Nicosia and Lome.He has worked in more than 144 countries and has an extensive network of global contacts.His areas of professional expertise include risk assessments, physical security, access control, guard force operations and management, counter terrorism, investigations, foreign security liaison, personal protection and Emergency Plans and Preparations.

As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.

As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.

Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.

Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.
Bill Gaskill
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