Protecting Your Car

Dear Tracy,
My job requires me to park my car in some not so safe areas. I would like to invest in some kind of car security, beyond the alarm system it came with. What are the most reliable anti-theft devices that are currently on the market?
Colleen F.
 

Dear Colleen,
There are several options you can invest in to protect your car. Although there is no one device that is fail safe, any barriers that you can put between your car and thieves will help. If you choose a highly visible device, it may be enough to cause a thief to not choose your car, just to avoid a hassle. Depending on what kind of budget you have for this investment, you may want to try to do a combination of devices. Here are some of the auto theft protection options that are available:

VIN Etching
VIN etching puts your vehicle identification number onto several parts of your car, including in the windows for would be thieves to see. While this should be serve as a deterrent, it is also is helpful in recovering a stolen vehicle. VIN etching kits are available for purchase, or in some areas VIN etching services are provided. A quick online search will show you local options.

Tire and Wheel Locks
Similar in appearance to the boots used by law enforcement, these devices are instantly visible and make a car nearly impossible to move. These can be purchased online or from an automotive supply store. For those who are primarily concerned with protecting wheels, McGard offers a variety of wheel locks. These locks function like a regular lug nut, but require a special key tool for installation and removal.

Steering Wheel and Steering Column Locks
These are based on the same concept as the wheel lock boots , and offer the same visible message to would be thieves. The options range from fairly inexpensive locks that must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the car to more expensive options that can be installed permanently.

Kill Switches
A kill switch is a hidden switch that must be flipped in order to start the car. The effectiveness of this approach depends on how well the switch is hidden from the thieves, who probably know most places to look for them. If you opt for a kill switch, make sure installation will not affect your car’s warranty.

For more ideas for preventing auto theft, check out these suggestions from the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Protection Authority.