• Is someone about to steal your car?

    Did you know that in the United States a vehicle is stolen every 25 seconds? And that if the business of stealing automobiles were legalized and incorporated, it would rank in the top 250 among Fortune 500 companies?

    New vehicles, older models - it doesn't matter. Thieves look for cars and trucks that can be resold quickly or stripped for parts; parts that often yield two and even three times the value of the vehicle. That's why it's important for you to make it tough for car thieves to steal your vehicle. Remember, the more difficult your car or truck is to steal, and the more time a thief must spend stealing it, the greater the chance for detection and the more likely the thief will move on to one that's easier to steal.

    What can you do to prevent auto theft?

    The Texas Automobile Burglary & Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), a division of your Texas Department of Transportation, has complied 50 ways to make it tough on car thieves. What's more, if you install anti-theft devices on your vehicle, you may qualify for a discount on your comprehensive insurance rates. To find out more about anti-theft device discounts, contact your automobile insurance company or agent.

    Follow these 20 no-cost precautions:

    • Take your keys
      Nearly 20% of all stolen vehicles had the keys in them.
    • Lock your car
      Approximately half of all stolen vehicles were left unlocked.
    • Never hide a second set of keys in your car
      Extra keys can easily be found if a thief takes time to look.
    • Park in well- lighted areas
      Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.
    • Park in attended lots
      Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
    • If you park in an attended lot, leave only the ignition/door key
      If your door key is the same as your trunk and glovebox key, have one of them changed. Don't give the attendant easy access to your glovebox and trunk. Upon returning, check the tires, spare and battery to insure they're the same ones you had when you parked.
    • Never leave your car running, even if you'll only be gone for a minute
      Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when owners leave them running to warm up. Remember: In Texas, leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime.
    • Close car windows completely when parking
      Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.
    • Don't leave valuables in plain view
      Don't make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
    • Park with your wheels turned toward the curb
      Make your car tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.
    • If your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, back into your driveway
      Front wheel drive vehicles should be parked front-end first. On four-wheel drive vehicles the rear wheels sometimes lock, making them difficult to tow.
    • Always use your emergency brake when parking
      In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your car harder to tow.
    • If you have a garage, use it
      If you have a garage, take time to use it rather-than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.
    • When parking in a garage, lock the garage door and your vehicle
      By locking both the garage and vehicle doors, the chances of deterring a thief greatly improve.
    • Don't leave the registration or title in your car
      A car thief will use these to sell your stolen car. File the title at your home or office, and carry registration in your purse or wallet.
    • Disable your vehicle when leaving it unattended for an extended period
      Remove the electronic ignition fuse, coil wire, rotor distributor, or otherwise disable your vehicle anytime thieves may have extended access to it.
    • Replace "T" shape door lock with straight locks
      Some vehicle doors have lock assemblies at window level that flare out in a knob or "T" shape. A thief can use various tools to gain access inside the vehicle, grab and pull the lock. Straight locks prevent this.
    • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching
      Stolen cars and vehicles parts are more easily traced when VIN's have been etched on car windows and major parts.
    • Engrave expensive accessories
      Engrave personal I.D. numbers on car stereos, cellular phones, etc., so the thief will have difficulty disposing of them.
    • Drop business cards, address labels, or other I.D. inside vehicle doors
      Car thieves often alter vehicle identification numbers. By marking your vehicle as much as possible, you assist police in identifying your car.
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