Fast, easy tips to protect your vehicle against theftIt takes just seconds for a criminal to break into your vehicle. Less than a minute later, your valuables - even your entire vehicle - could be gone. It can take weeks to settle an auto theft insurance claim, and since claims are usually based on your vehicle's value rather than its replacement cost, it could leave you thousands of dollars short - all for the sake of a few oments of your time.
Since vehicle theft is often a crime of opportunity, the Calgary Police Service recommends these measures to make your vehicle less attractive to thieves.
- Lock it up. Close the windows, lock the doors and the trunk, and take your keys with you - never leave your vehicle unlocked, even for the few minutes it takes to duck into a store or run back into the house. And don't hide a key on the vehicle - criminals know ALL the hiding spots.
- Turn it off. Never leave your vehicle idling alone, even if you lock the doors. It costs the environment in emissions, and it could cost you when a criminal bypasses the door lock in seconds.
- Hide your valuables. Wherever and whenever you park, remove your valuables - including any removable stereos. If that's not practical (you're in the middle of a shopping day, for example), hide the valuables in the trunk, out of sight, and then move the vehicle to a different place in the parking lot. Thieves watch parking lots to see who's stashing shopping bags and then heading back into the mall.
- Stow it right. If you have a garage, use it and lock it. If you don't, choose a parking spot that's as well lit and well travelled as possible, within sight of your windows.
- Think security. If your vehicle has an alarm, use it. If it doesn't, consider installing one, or at least using an anti-theft device such as a steering-wheel locking bar. These items can deter some criminals, and can delay others. If your vehicle is especially attractive to criminals, consider installing a security system such as an electronic vehicle disabling device, a hood-locking device or a location tracking system.
- Protect yourself. Never leave any identifying information, such as your name, address, phone number or vehicle registration/insurance in the vehicle. Carry it in your wallet or purse instead, and never leave these items in the vehicle. You'll also need the registration and insurance details in case the vehicle is stolen, so it's a great idea to make an extra copy of these documents, to keep at home.
- Report it! If you see suspicious people in or around vehicles, call the Calgary Police Service at 266-1234. And if your vehicle is broken into or stolen, report it to police right away, regardless of loss or insurance coverage. Break-ins are rarely isolated - reporting them immediately with as much detail as possible can help police in their investigation.
For more crime prevention tips, visit the Calgary Police Service web site at www.calgary.ca/cps/.