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Car theft is still prevalent in many parts of the U.S. Kelley Blue Book reported that the car theft rate was 33.5% higher in the first half of 2023 than in all of 2022. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be getting much better.

In that case, keeping your car safe from being stolen is important. And while your car can never be 100% protected, here are five tips to keep it safe from car thieves.

Tip No. 1: Remove your keys from the car and lock the doors

A Fiat car key inside the car
Fiat key | via Getty Images

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many car owners leave their keys inside the car. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that a car is stolen every 45 seconds, and one out of every eight is a “freebie” theft. If you leave your key in your car, a thief can easily break a window, find the key, and start the car.

Nowadays, many cars are equipped with push-button ignitions and remote key fobs. And while these do prevent car theft, they won’t if the key is in the car (or close to it) and the doors are unlocked.

Tip No. 2: Park in a well-lit area

A truck parked in a dark area
A truck parked in a dark spot | via Getty Images

Parking your car in a dimly lit area that’s out of the eyes of the public could attract the wrong type of attention. Car thieves like to work in secrecy, after all. Allstate recommends parking your car in a well-lit area, as thieves may be deterred if they are easily seen.

Tip No. 3: Install an audible alarm in the car

A viper alarm remote on a key chain
A viper alarm remote on a key chain | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Some may argue that aftermarket alarms do nothing but emit noise. That could be true, considering most passersby don’t even turn their heads when a car alarm goes off nowadays, but it’s still an added layer of security. We recommend having a well-rated installer do the work if you plan to install an alarm in your car. They may be able to wire a kill switch to prevent the car from being stolen as well.

Tip No. 4: Install a GPS tracking system

A person holding an Apple Airtag
Apple Airtag | via Getty Images

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Another layer of automotive security is to install a GPS tracker in your car. There are many different GPS trackers in the market today, and if any of them are out of your budget, you can always throw an Apple AirTag in your car for good measure. The AirTag is cheap and does well for tracking cars. Many car owners have successfully recovered their cars using this method.

Tip No. 5: Don’t leave valuable items in your car

One of the easiest ways to attract a car thief is to leave valuables in your car. This includes cell phones, purses, handbags, backpacks, or suitcases. Some thieves will even steal artwork left in your car.

That said, keep your valuables in the trunk or at home, if possible. The last thing you would want to come back to is broken glass and stolen goods from your car after leaving it for a while. Worse yet, the entire car could be stolen.

What do you do if your car is stolen?

If your car is stolen, the NHTSA advises that you call the police immediately and provide the following information:

  • The year, make, model, and color of your car
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number

You should also notify your car insurance that the car has been stolen within 24 hours. However, if you follow the aforementioned tips, your car could stand a better chance of being part of the car theft statistic.