How to Choose an Anti-theft Device

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Any car is vulnerable to theft. But certain precautions will make your car more of a challenge, which may send the thief looking for easier pickings elsewhere.

Things You'll Need

  • Ignition Kill Switches
  • Steering Wheel Locks
  • Car Alarms
  • Hood Locks
  • Determine your budget. You can install a kill switch yourself for about $10 or you can outfit your rig with all the goodies for more than $1,000.

  • Don't rely too much on factory-installed security systems; they are easy to disable. The electronic key some cars come with is fine, but use another anti-theft system in conjunction with it.

  • Install hood locks on your car if it has an external release. This will prevent your battery from being tampered with.

  • Keep in mind that the steering column is the No. 1 target for car thieves. Unfortunately, even if he can't get your car started, he may have already done enough damage that you won't be able to either. Consider an armored collar to prevent this. The permanent type is better than the manual, which has to be taken off whenever you drive.

  • Prevent amateurs and kids looking to joyride with a steering-wheel lock.

  • Make a lot of noise. Car alarms are very common and come with a wide range of options. Motion, door-open and impact sensors are the most common.

  • Install an alarm worth having. A backup battery is important ' your alarm is useless without one if a thief unhooks your battery. Your insurance might drop if you have a passive system (one that arms itself). Remote keyless entry is handy and a pager will tell you when your alarm has been set off.

  • Use a fuel- or ignition-kill switch (also known as immobilizers) to prevent the car from being started. Make sure it's hidden, though, or a thief can find it and easily bypass it. Many car alarms have an ignition-kill option.

  • Have your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etched onto all of the windows. Chop shops will find your car much less appealing.

  • Use more than one type of theft deterrent for peace of mind.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find an alarm installer who is Mobile Electronics Certification Program (MECP) certified. Check with the Better Business Bureau before you take your car in, and once the system is installed, ask the technician to show you how it works.
  • Read the discussions in the Auto Theft Forum at Insure.com (see Related Sites). You will find advice and comments about every type of security imaginable. Use this information to research what would be best for you and your car.

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