No one wishes to lose his car or its components to thieves. We all value our Automobile. Unfortunately, stealing is one of the commonest crimes in human history. All we can do is to prevent thieves from taken advantage of us as much as we can. The topic for discussion today boils down to car theft and how to minimise it by Choosing the best vehicle Anti-Theft device.
I shall especially be focusing on curbing the attempt to steal your car when you are not around. Sadly, only one anti-theft method can work effectively when your car is stolen at(I mean tracking devices). Luckily, Stealing cars at gunpoint is not a very common phenomenon or not as common as stealing cars that are vulnerable. While you can’t prevent a man holding a gun from stealing your car, you can, however, retrieve such car after the theft(as long as you had installed a tracer prior to the incident).
Furthermore, some societies are more prone to car theft than others. In society A, stealing of cars by armed robbers might be the norm while in Societ B, what their preoccupations is break-ins into cars to steal components such as the battery, stereo, wallets e.t.c. You sincerely need to determine the kind of car theft that is prevalent in your location before you buy an anti-theft device for your car. After reading this article, you must have learnt one or two things about how you can put yourself in a position to prevent your car from being stolen
What is Vehicle Theft?
We can call motor vehicle theft the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle or its components/contents. Motor Theft is not limited to stealing the vehicle as a whole alone. If you steal the contents of the interior of a vehicle, or the components of a vehicle, you are also guilty of motor theft. For example., if a vehicle owner parks his car and you went there to steal his battery or stereo, you are guilty of the crime of motor vehicle theft. Other synonyms of vehicle theft are the stealing of vehicles owners belonging left inside a car. Such items include phones, purses, bags and so on.
Especially Relevant Articles:
How can you Prevent Motor Vehicle Theft?
There are various methods of prevention to reduce the likelihood of a vehicle getting stolen. These include physical barriers, which make the effort of stealing the vehicle more difficult. Some of these include:
Popular Anti-Theft Devices used in preventing vehicle theft
- Devices used to lock a part of the vehicle necessary in its operation, such as the wheel, steering wheel or brake pedal. A commonly used device of this kind is the steering-wheel lock (also known as a crook lock or club lock).
- Immobilisers allow the vehicle to start only if a key containing the correct chip is present in the ignition. These work by locking the steering wheel and disabling the ignition. Most modern cars are equipped with this by default
- Hidden kill switches cut electric current to the ignition coil, fuel pump, or other systems to frustrate or slow down a thief.
- Deterrents tell the thief they are more likely to get caught if the vehicle is stolen. These include:
- Car alarm systems are triggered by breaking into the vehicle.
- Microdot identification tags allow individual parts of a vehicle to be identified.
- Signs on windows warning of other deterrents, sometimes as a bluff.
- VIN etching may reduce the resale value of parts or increase the risk of resale.
Tips on Choosing the best vehicle Anti-Theft device
The cheapest and most effective car anti-theft device is for you to be security conscious. In other words, use your discretion in preventing motor theft.
Tips to prevent vehicle theft without an anti-theft device
- Try to park in well-lit areas, or parking lots with attendants.
- Don’t leave your valuables in plain sight: GPS, CD player, shopping bags, purse, wallet, iPhone, iPod, etc.
- Keep a thin blanket in your trunk, and use it to cover shopping bags in your car.
- Never ever leave your keys in the ignition when you leave your car…not even for a quick pop into the petrol station. (*Yes, people actually DO this, and it is how many cars get stolen.)
- The more security you have installed, the less appealing your car will be to a thief.
- In addition, some security measures will lower your car insurance premium by 15% to 36%. So, think of it as an investment! I’ve broken down the most popular car anti-theft devices into 3 categories: “Mechanical Immobilizers,” “Electrical Immobilizers” and “Vehicle Tracking.
Categories of Motor Vehicle Anti-theft Devices
We have three major categories of anti-theft devices. Viz: “Mechanical Immobilizers,” “Electrical Immobilizers” and “Vehicle Tracking. We will appraise these categories alongside Choosing the best vehicle Anti-Theft device
1. The Mechanical Immobilizers:
The steering wheel and pedal lock Vehicle Anti-Theft Device.
This device is placed on the steering wheel(some are placed across the pedals or jointly with the steering and the to lock it in place. The car can’t be driven until the lock is removed. One popular version of this device is called The Club. The device works by fitting in between the rim of the steering wheel. You then extend it and lock the handles on either side into place around the steering wheel rim.
The length of the device keeps the steering wheel from being fully turned. The major advantage of this is that your car cannot be driven off easily unless the lock is severed or unlocked. it is a very good anti-theft, recommended in areas where stealing the car(not some accessories) is the target. This device is cheap and the cost ranges from #200 to like #10,000 in Nigeria. Or like $25 for low end and $100 for high-end.
This lock is designed to deny access to under the hood, preventing thieves from stealing the battery and other parts on your car. These are similar to the hood pins found on some muscle cars. The main difference is that hood locks lock into place, requiring a key to open them.
While this won’t stop a thief from stealing your vehicle, it can keep him from taking valuable engine components. This should be combined with a steering lock or car tracking devices. please, do not use this alone as your car might still be stolen.
Wheel/Tire Lock Anti-Theft Device
These deterrents are highly visible and hard to get off. (Again, I know you’ve seen car “boots” used by law enforcement on illegally parked cars) Since tire locks take time and effort to attach and remove, these would not be my first choice for your daily driver vehicle. This is very popular in Nigeria especially among our task forces and other law enforcement agencies who specialises on impounding cars. This is a good one but I would not recommend you using it for a stop-and-go vehicle. Price Range: Low End: $80, High End: $200
Other mechanical immobilizer Car Anti-Theft Options
Gearshift locks, ignition/steering wheel column and crook locks, gear shifter locks and brake pedal locks.
2. The Electronic Engine Immobilisers Anti-Theft Devices
A Car “Kill Switch” Anti-Theft Device
The main function of this anti-theft device is to shut down part of the engine’s electrical system. Some cars have them built in, and they are pretty easy to install. Price Range: Low End: $10, High-End: $200
(-)A popular model is the Master Lock Starter Sentry, which kills the fuel or ignition system via a wireless transmitter.
(-)Other ignition kill switches are activated the moment a car is locked and cannot be deactivated until a series of tasks are completed (i.e., unlocking the car, pressing the gas pedal once, buckling your seat belt, or opening and locking the door before pressing the switch etc.)
(-)Always check your car’s warranty first, because some don’t allow installation, and remember to hide the Kill Switch, so a thief won’t see and disable it.
(-)Tip: Kill switches don’t require car knowledge to be installed. The kill switch can be mounted under the dash or seat or any other good hiding place.
Please if you are forgetful or absentminded like me, do not consider this option at all. this option can cause fatal accidents if used by a novice. You might forget to perform the necessary operations required to deactivate the “kill switch” and your car will simply switch off on you on the high if this happens, only God, your experience or the density of traffic can make you escape unscathed. even at that, you might be at the mercy of the law enforcement agencies.
Vehicle’s Default Electronic Engine Immobilisers
Sadly, many car owners don’t know how to use this useful security system that comes with their cars by default. Many of today’s cars include this system on the car key. The key sends signals to the ignition to prevent the vehicle from starting without the key. The fuel system locks up, and the engine won’t start. Called RFID, or radio-frequency identification, this technology uses an electromagnetic field to identify and track key fobs containing an RFID chip keyed to that particular vehicle.
Without the appropriate RFID chip, the car cannot start. This is so good but you can be forced by the thief(at gunpoint) to start the car and they will drive off with it)
- A car alarm
These are the most visually effective anti-theft devices. Sometimes drawing a potential thief’s attention to the fact that your car has an alarm system is enough to deter them.
So, be sure to put a sticker in the window, on both sides, proudly proclaiming you have a car security system activated. Car alarms feature electronic sensors designed to activate when a vehicle is breached: unauthorised entry, the breaking of glass, sudden movement, and perimeter violations. When a threat is detected by the sensors, a siren activates (at over 120 dBs), alerting the car’s driver and everyone else within earshot. Price Range: Low End: $150, High End: $1,000. this is best combined with a remote transmitter.
Things to note before installing a car alarm system
- Be wary of older, cheaper car alarms, flexible-circuit alarms, and single-stage sirens, which are too easily triggered, and may come at the expense of your neighbours’ friendship.
- Always hook your car alarm up to a backup battery and/or invest in a hood lock. Many car thieves know how to unplug a car alarm’s battery, which will silence it.
- Even if you don’t have a car alarm, you can buy & apply stickers proclaiming your vehicle is protected by an alarm. The thought of a security system should make any thief choose another victim!
- VIN Etching as an Anti-Theft Method
Every vehicle has a unique, 17-digit serial number assigned to it called the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. The VIN will be on the car’s title, on the dashboard (driver-side), and on your insurance and registration cards. You can “brand” your car’s parts by etching it’s VIN number on all windows and all important parts. Doing this serves as both a tracking device and a theft deterrent. Most car thieves steer clear of etched vehicles because of the expense of replacing and disposing of VIN-coded glass. I sincerely love this method. if you see your vehicle anywhere, you will be able to identify it.
Car Covers & Vehicle tints
Both of these can also serve as viable Anti-Theft tools. We all know that the primary function of a tint on a vehicle or a car cover is to control the effect of the weather. Now, you will ask me how car covers or tints can protect a car?. Let’s take, for example, you parked your car in an open space with a car cover over it. As you would expect, we will have passersby. A car cover can prevent attention to the interior of your car from passersby. Similarly, having all side windows and rear window of your vehicle tinted can offer some privacy which can discourage those who wishes to break into your car and steal something.
Obviously, the same doesn’t apply to a car that is not covered or tinted. It is easy to take a sneak peek at the interior of your vehicle and sight that smartphone or wallet that you left in your car. A not of warning here, on no condition should you use a Car cover or a Tinted vehicle as your sole anti-theft device.
3 And the Overall Best: Install a vehicle tracking system
When car security is of utmost priority to you, consider installing a tracker and combine it with any mechanical immobilizer of your choice. In all sincerity, this is the “Cadillac” of auto theft protection, so be prepared to pay top dollar.
Electronic tracking devices offer a real-time location of the stolen vehicle using Global Positioning Systems (GPS). These are sold with service contracts and have a reputation for relocating many vehicles a mere hour after they have been stolen. You can as well go for a vehicle tracking system that can use not only GPS but also GSM. This is important if you really want to recover your car even when there is no internet connection. I will personally advise you if you live in auto theft-prone areas to combine a vehicle tracking system with a mechanical immobilizer such as brake lock, wheel lock or steering lock.
- The two biggest companies are LoJack and OnStar. LoJack features a hidden transmitter in the car, which is activated once a theft is reported. This company works directly with law enforcement and boasts a 95 percent return rate on stolen vehicles. OnStar offers a similar system, which comes standard on all new model cars from GM, Acura, Audi, Isuzu and Volkswagen.
Where you Can buy a Good Motor Vehicle Anti-Theft Device
I will first advise you to check your local auto shop. For mechanical Anti-theft devices and basic electronic ones, you can sure get them locally. However, if you need something more advanced, then order it online. eBay, Amazon and similar sites come to fore here.
Meanwhile, here is an Amazon link to various third-party anti-theft devices