By Madeline Klein on October 2, 2018.
Cars are an essential part of our lives. They get us to work in the morning. They help us bring groceries home. They get you and your family to the park on the weekends.
You want your car protected because you have to do all those important things. And with $5.6 billion being lost due to car theft in 2016, keeping it safe can be tough. Anti-theft devices seem like a no-brainer, right?
While it seems like an obvious solution, it’s not so simple. You’ve got passive anti-theft systems, active anti-theft devices and numerous car security devices to choose from. To help make it easy for you, we’ve gone in-depth here about anti-theft systems to help you make some decisions.
Passive vs. active anti-theft systems
Passive anti-theft systems: These systems turn on automatically, typically when the driver turns off the car and closes all the doors. An example would be if your car won’t start without your key being inside. This is the case for many push-to-start vehicles with specially coded keys. Passive anti-theft systems are convenient because you won’t forget to turn it on.
Active anti-theft systems: An active anti-theft systems must be turned on or activated by the driver to be on and working. They are usually turned on by clicking a button on a remote or key. An example would be the kill switch we describe below. They are a little more work for the driver but can make your car very difficult to steal.
Types of anti-theft devices for cars
1. Steering wheel lock
A steering wheel lock is a classic tool to prevent car theft. Wheel locks lock onto your steering wheel so you can’t move it or drive the car. Put the steering wheel lock on at night and remove it in the morning when you need to drive your car the next day. It signals to thieves right off the bat that you’ve taken precautions and hopefully deters anyone with bad intentions.
2. Tire lock
Similar to the steering wheel lock, a tire lock makes sure your car can’t be driven while it is in place. You’ve probably seen these around because police will use them when someone has parked illegally. This is a more affordable option that you can easily put on when you feel you need to. You can keep it in your trunk and pop it on when necessary.
3. Car cam
Car cameras can help show potential thieves that you have an eye on them. The Owl, for example, will send a live video to your phone if it detects motion in your car when you’re not in it. It lights up and also has a speaker. If your vehicle is stolen, you have that live video and a photo of the thief for the police to help track down your car.
4. Tracking device
A tracking device won’t necessarily prevent your car from being stolen, but it will help police find it if it does happen to be taken. These can be a bit more pricey but could prevent your car from being gone forever. They typically can be stashed out of view so a thief can't remove them if the car is stolen.
5. Kill switch
This anti-theft device is meant to shut down the electrical system of a car if it is being stolen. It is activated when the vehicle is locked, and then the driver must then do a series of steps before it unlocks. Mount one of these under the dash or underneath a seat, and you can rest a little easier knowing your car won’t drive if someone tries to steal it.
Choosing the right anti-theft system for you
There are a lot of factors that will impact what type of anti-theft device is best for you.
Car model: If you drive a car on this list of most stolen vehicles, you may want to opt for more protection. If your car is a go-to for thieves, more protection can help deter them and keep your vehicle safe.
Price point: Anti-theft devices can greatly range in price. If you aren’t looking to spend a ton, things like the steering wheel lock or tire lock can be great options. If you have more to put towards your anti-theft devices, the more technologically inclined devices like the kill switch or car tracker can come in handy.
Where you park your car: If you are consistently parking it in a neighborhood seeing a lot of theft, you may want to splurge on your anti-theft device. However, if you park in a garage at home and feel your car is pretty safe at work, you can opt for a lower price point.
All in all, you’ll want to find a device that fits your budget and your lifestyle. In the end, knowing your car has an extra layer of protection will hopefully help you sleep a little better at night.
Keep your insurance provider in the know
Many insurance providers will give discounts if your car has an anti-theft device. If you just bought a new car that came equipped with an anti-theft device, or if you are installing a new one yourself, talk to your provider to see if you qualify for an anti-theft discount on car insurance.