Keyed Car and Vandalism Prevention Tips
5 Ways to Prevent Vandalized Vehicles
If you were to ask a car owner to name the most typical reasons for filing an insurance claim, he or she is likely to respond with "theft" or some accident-related damage. For some reason, though, many people often forget to mention vandalism. Maybe it's because we tend to associate vandalism with a misbehaving neighborhood kid breaking a side mirror with a baseball, throwing eggs or snapping off an antenna -- things that are small and annoying but relatively cheap to fix.
The fact is, however, that auto vandalism is a very big problem and often results in hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in repair costs. And here's another fact: vandals are almost never caught. That's why I thought it might be a good idea to present this list of keyed car and vandalism prevention tips for your consideration. Most of these tips may seem pretty obvious, but given the literally millions of dollars paid out in insurance claims for vandalism annually, it’s worth a refresher.
Don’t Leave An Obvious Spare Key
It should be common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people leave a spare key tucked into a wheel or your front doormat. If you need a spare key, keep it in a lockbox or insert in your wallet. In the same vein, you also shouldn’t leave your car unlocked, even if you’re only leaving it unattended for a few minutes; you’re just asking someone to come mess with your stuff and the interior of your car.
Park It Inside
Do you have a garage? You might want to clear out some of your old junk and put your car in at night. Keeping your vehicle in a locked garage works as a great deterrent to vandalism because most vandals are simply looking to cause a little trouble and aren't much interested in exerting a lot of effort to do it.
Think about it. If some young delinquent wants to key a car, and the choice is between breaking into a locked building or simply walking down the street in order to accomplish the task, what choice do you suppose this genius is going to make?
If parking in a garage is not an option, however, there are still several precautions you can take that are easy to do and pretty effective, too.
Light It Up
Here's the dilemma: if you have to park outside at night, there are some things that you want to do to avoid drawing attention to your vehicle, and some things you want to do to actually draw attention. A good example of the latter is to always park in an unobstructed, well-lit place. If you are on the street, park your car under a street lamp. If you are parking in a driveway, install a nice, bright motion-sensor light. When it comes to illumination, drawing attention to your car is a good thing because it also means drawing attention to anyone that comes near it. Like a vandal.
Install a Real Good (or Real Fake) Car Alarm
This is another example of where drawing attention to your vehicle is a good thing. Consider installing a quality motion-activated car alarm. And by quality, I mean one that doesn't go off when it's hit by a slight breeze but makes one big racket when it does go off.
Some owners think that car alarms are useless because most people just ignore them. But the truth is that when a vandal stands next to one that is blasting at 120db, they won't be standing there long.
Unfortunately, the best car alarm systems can be pretty expensive. If cost is a problem for you, consider a fake alarm. Seriously. By a fake alarm, I'm talking about a little wireless blinking red light that you can install on your dash. Believe it or not, if a thief or vandal sees that little blinking light, there's a good chance he (or she) might just move on down the road. I mean, why take the chance? By the way, if you don't have the cash for a fake alarm, either, consider investing in a security system decal, especially if it is for a real security company.
Hide Your Stuff
Here's one for making your car less attractive.
Don't leave anything of value in plain sight to anyone looking into your car. Don’t leave anything on the seats, even if they’re under a blanket. Lock your valuables in your trunk or glove compartment, or hide them under a seat. Better yet, take them with you. Don't give a thief an incentive to bust out your window.
Install An Immobilizer
An immobilizer is an electronic device that prevents your car from being “hotwired” by requiring a special key or token to start the car. Studies have shown installing immobilizers has reduced rates of car theft by up to 40% in the European Union.
It doesn't hurt to be on good terms with your neighbors. First of all, they will be more likely to look out for you (and your car.) And second, if your neighbors (and their kids) actually like you, it's much less likely that one of them will want to vandalize your property.
Finally, there is one more "catch-all" tip: use common sense. Don't park in a bad neighborhood if you can avoid doing so. Don't leave your car unattended for long periods of time. Common sense may not keep you from avoiding all of the bad guys out there, but it could possibly deter the one that's out there right now.