Car Theft Prevention for Dealers and Drivers

by | Aug 18, 2023

Bolt Cutter-Proof Locks and Padlocks

Whether you own an auto dealership or simply own a car, vehicles are extremely valuable. That’s a good reason to keep your cars, trucks, and other vehicles safe and sound. Protect your ride, whether it’s in a driveway or on a lot, with smart car theft prevention efforts.

Should You Worry About Theft?

Unfortunately, car theft is a valid concern. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that more than 1 million vehicles were stolen in 2022. That’s a 7% increase over car theft statistics from 2021.

Interestingly, the top 10 most stolen cars include some models that might surprise you. They’re hardly the luxury vehicles you might expect. Pickup trucks attract the most thieves, according to the NICB. Several Japanese-manufactured sedans make the list, as do Hyundai and Kia models that are popular Kia Boyz targets. For more specifics, check out Deep Sentinel’s deep dive into the most stolen cars.

So, what does this mean for you? If you have a vehicle, you must take precautions to prevent car theft.

Car Theft Prevention for Car Owners

Some of these tips for how to protect your car from theft may seem like common sense. But they’re worth the effort.

Smart Habits

  • Always lock up. Even if you’re just making a quick stop. This is the easiest way to prevent your car from being stolen.
  • Close the windows. Don’t leave even a crack. Thieves can maneuver tools in that tiny gap, just like you might do if you locked your keys inside.
  • Rethink your glove box. If you have a valet key, remove it. Also, don’t keep your car’s title inside, which would put the necessary ownership documents at a thief’s fingertips.
  • Never leave your keys in the car. While it may be convenient for you, it’s also convenient for crooks!
  • Tuck away valuables. Why entice would-be thieves? Place valuable items in the trunk or out of sight. Better yet, leave them at home, especially if your vehicle doesn’t have a completely enclosed trunk.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings. Plan trips to avoid known high-crime areas. In addition, don’t “tune out” with distracting music.
  • Pick a good parking spot. Use a garage or carport. Remove keys and garage door openers. If you don’t have a garage, park near a streetlight.

Handy Devices and Gadgets

  • Invest in an anti-theft system. These give a thief incentive to look for easier pickings elsewhere. A popular option is “The Club,” which locks onto your steering wheel. But there are many others, including ignition cut-off systems. Check with your insurance company, as some offer discounts for cars with anti-theft devices.
  • Purchase a car alarm. Alarms use the car’s horn or a siren to attract attention, encouraging criminals to flee. Most higher-end alarms feature a glass breakage or tilt sensor. If your vehicle doesn’t have a factory-installed alarm, seek professional alarm installation.
  • Use home security cameras. If you have surveillance cameras on your property (and you should), dedicate one camera to your driveway and/or garage door. With a powerful monitored system like Deep Sentinel, live security guards can intervene and stop a thief before they can wreak any havoc.

What About Car Parts?

The entire car isn’t always what a thief is seeking. Sometimes, it’s about high-demand components, such as catalytic converters. That’s why protecting car parts is just as important as protecting the cars themselves.

While it may not prevent theft, etching your vehicle identification number (VIN) on your car and some of its major parts is a smart move. Some shops will weld a plate or cage under your car that makes it trickier for someone to make off with your catalytic converter. An alarm system with a jolt sensor can be programmed so that it responds to even the slightest jiggling, which is often required for someone to remove a catalytic converter. Even painting your catalytic converter makes a difference.

For more ideas, see Deep Sentinel’s tips for how to prevent catalytic converter theft and airbag theft.

Car Theft Prevention for Auto Dealerships

Your lot is a smorgasbord for would-be thieves, between the inventory for sale and customer vehicles onsite for service and repairs. Preventing auto theft requires a multi-pronged approach focused on protecting vehicles as a whole, as well as their much-desired parts. Your automobile theft prevention plan should include these steps.

Protect Each Car

  • Pay attention to keys. Use a sign-in/sign-out system to track all keys and fobs. That way, if there’s a problem, you’ll know who last had a given vehicle’s key. And, of course, lock those keys away during and after business hours. Just hanging them on a communal peg board opens the opportunity for someone to steal or copy them.
  • Park smartly. Park the most expensive models in with other vehicles. And be sure to turn all wheels sharply to one side to prevent tow-aways.
  • Use anti-theft devices. Though this isn’t an option for customer vehicles, it’s critical to secure your for-sale inventory. These might include beefed-up versions of the same devices that car owners use, like locks for wheels and steering wheels, alarms, and more.

Secure the Dealership

  • Light things up. Make sure you have adequate lighting indoors and out, including motion-activated floodlights throughout your lots.
  • Minimize access. Rather than leaving the doors wide open to your lot, invest in fences, locks, and gates to control who can get to vehicles and more. An electric fence may be worth the investment to prevent thieves from sneaking up at night.
  • Be security-conscious day and night. While most dealerships think of nighttime security, they have fairly open access during the day. By pretending to be prospective customers, thieves often “case” a dealership to explore the setup and potential gains.
  • Consider hiring security guards. Having a person onsite is a strong option, albeit a pricier one.
  • Invest in automotive dealership live video surveillance. Compared to in-person guards, monitored wireless or PoE business security cameras with two-way audio offer robust protection and lower costs. Place cameras above entrances, inventory areas, and cash registers. Deep Sentinel’s cameras come with a “built-in” professional guard team behind the scenes, monitoring any anomalies picked up by the AI in the system. Thanks to AI, you only receive a notification if there’s a person near your lots after hours. The live security guard team has eyes on your dealership immediately and steps in well before any criminal activity starts.

For a comprehensive list of what auto dealers can do to ramp up their security levels, check out Deep Sentinel’s guide to auto dealership security.

Say Goodbye to Car Theft

With some simple car theft prevention efforts, you can ensure that your vehicles and parts won’t fall into the wrong hands. To explore a residential or business surveillance system, contact Deep Sentinel at 833.983.6006.

Updated August 2023

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