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Vehicle safety measures

Updated December 23, 2009

You can help prevent car theft! Though professional car thieves have entered the field in increasing numbers, most cars are still taken by amateurs who can be stopped fairly easily. You can greatly increase your protection against this type of crime by taking the following sensible precautions.

Lock up

  • An unlocked car is an open invitation to a car thief. Lock up whenever you leave your car, and take the keys with you.
  • Lock the trunk and/or tailgate.
  • Close all windows—professional thieves have tools that help unlock cars through a minimum of open space.
  • When you park the car, remove your cell phone and any other valuable possessions from the car. Do not leave gift-wrapped packages or cameras lying on the seat of your car. Lock all valuables in your trunk or take them with you.

Park carefully

  • Avoid leaving an auto unattended in public parking lots for an extended period of time. A car is more likely to be stolen from an unattended lot than from the street or an attended lot.
  • If possible, park your car in a lot where you donít have to leave your keys.
  • Never attach a tag with your name and address to your key ring. If the keys are lost or stolen, the tag will lead the thief directly to your car—and your home. If you have to leave your keys with a parking attendant, only leave the ignition key.
  • At night, park in well-lit areas with pedestrian traffic.
  • Whenever possible, turn wheels sharply toward the curb when parking, making it extra difficult for thieves to tow your car.

Operation I.D.

  • With an electric engraver, etch your California driverís license number preceded by the letters "CA" on cell phones, CD players and other items.
  • Record your vehicle identification number (located on a small metal plate on the dashboard of newer cars) and store it in a safe place.
  • Keep a copy of your OLD vehicle registration card in your wallet. It will help police get vehicle information if the car is stolen.

Use "anti-theft" devices

  • When buying a car, check the manufacturerís list of anti-theft options.
  • Consider the purchase and installation of security devices, such as an interior hood lock and release; additional locking bars for the steering wheel; a steering wheel locking device; a second ignition or "kill switch" which prevents electrical current from reaching the coil distributor; a fuel switch which prevents fuel from reaching the carburetor; a locking gas cap; locking devices for batteries, wheel, decks, etc.; or a GPS or satellite monitoring service.

Prevent the theft of other vehicles

Thefts of snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats and trailbikes are also increasing. Many of the same precautions that apply to cars and bicycles also apply to recreational vehicles.

Lock it

  • Lock up and take the keys with you.
  • Make sure all easy-to-carry items like motors, water skis and camping gear are locked up before leaving your vehicle.

Chain it

  • Vehicles carried on trailers should be secured with a strong chain and padlock.
  • When the trailer is not attached to your car, secure it with a heavy chain and lock to a stationary object.
  • Chain your motorcycle or snowmobile to a stationary object such as a lamppost or sewer grating. Even when your vehicle is in the garage, use a heavy chain and padlock that resists conventional steel hacksaw blades.

How to prevent bicycle theft

Always chain your bicycle when leaving it—even for a short time. The chain should be case-hardened, at least 3/8" thick and covered with plastic or an inner tube to prevent scratching the bikeís finish. Make sure you use a sturdy padlock. Always chain both the rear wheel and the frame to a stationary object in a conspicuous place. If you chain one wheel to the other, it can be thrown in a truck and unlocked later.

Store it

  • Never leave your bicycle unlocked, even at home. Store it indoors or in a locked garage whenever youíre not using it.

Register it

  • Register the serial number, make, model and description of your bicycle with your local law enforcement agency. You are more likely to recover a stolen bike if it has been licensed. Operation ID can help here also.

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