Cracking Your Windows Is Like an Unlocked Car, According to Former Car Thieves

Power windows have been a standard feature in cars for more than half a century. But on a hot day, the temptation to leave the windows down a crack is stronger than ever. After all, it lets a nice breeze run through. And surely, nobody would be able to get inside, right? Wouldn’t they have to shatter the windows and attract plenty of attention?

An old trick still works when car windows are cracked

Pedestrians are seen through a car window on July 8, 2021, in Manhattan, New York City
Keep your car windows rolled up when you leave | Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Former thief Steve Fuller told ABC that advances in car security and technology haven’t done much to prevent window-based theft.

“A window that has enough room for me to stick my fingers in, I can get out of its track by rocking it back and forth. Then I can pry the window out of the track enough to where I can get my arm down in there and unlock the vehicle.”

Steve Fuller via ABC

Most cars will still unlock when the button is pressed, regardless of whether the keys are present. If an enterprising thief can get their hand into the car, it’s not long until they have full access to the interior.

More advice from a former thief

After kicking his drug habit, Fuller is on the straight and narrow and doing his best to make amends. He provided some additional tips that could help you keep your car safe. Primarily, car thieves hate the possibility of anyone watching. If they can’t get away quickly and quietly, odds are they’ll move on to another car. Fuller listed car alarms, killswitches, well-lit streets, nosy neighbors, and security cameras as things that might dissuade him from swiping a specific car.

The more precautions you take, the safer your car will be. But there’s no guarantee anything you do will be 100% effective. In some cases, futuristic new features have even been used by thieves to allow access to the vehicle. As long as there’s a reason to do so, thieves will find a way to steal cars. But what Fuller tells us is that we shouldn’t make it easy — especially don’t leave your car running unattended.

Other types of car theft to watch out for

Though owners should ensure they roll their car windows all the way up, another booming type of vehicle theft doesn’t require getting inside the car at all. Catalytic converters are easily portable, valuable, and difficult to trace. Clever thieves can slide under the car, saw the converter off, pocket it, and be away in minutes (less clever thieves, coincidentally, have been making it easier to catch them — whether they’re easily identifiable or simply don’t know how to put gas in their stolen vehicles.)

A thief’s slipping into your car and making off with the valuables inside or even the car itself is as easy as it’s ever been if you make the mistake of leaving the windows cracked. Thefts of catalytic converters mean that no matter what you do, your car isn’t 100% safe. But the information from the former car thief reminds us to take all the precautions we can.

RELATED: Thieves Suck: 7 DIY Ways to Protect Your Car From Theft