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Advice & More April 2016

How to Keep Your Car Safe from Theft and Burglary: Tips from a Reformed Criminal

By Teresa Ambord

Another deterrent is a blinking light on the dashboard that signifies a car alarm. You can buy a fake light that doesn’t even connect to an alarm. And runs on little battery. A quick check of showed you can buy one for under $9. Thieves know they might be fake, but it’s not worth the risk.

Car theft is big business these days, and breaking into cars to loot them might be even bigger. You may think you’re safe, but car thieves are becoming bolder even in rural areas such as where I live. A few months ago my friend’s car was driven right out of our church parking lot one bright Sunday morning. It hasn’t been seen since. You just never know.

One former thief had become a pro at breaking into cars to steal whatever he could. That is, till he got caught and went to jail. After he “paid his debt to society” he committed to helping people avoid having their cars stolen or broken into. On his website,, he provides some tips and some insider information.

Here are some questions and answers and general tips about car safety from a professional thief, and some additional information from the DMV.


What’s the best way to keep thieves from looting your car?

There are two, says the bluecollarworkman. 1. Be a hoarder. You’ve seen cars that are so crammed with junk that there’s barely room for a driver. It takes a thief too long to find anything worth stealing. Plus you never know when a rat will come crawling out of the hoard. 2. Have nothing visible in your car. Nothing visible, nothing worth stealing (unless of course they want the car itself).


What’s the best way to get your car broken into?

Our reformed car thief says, leave loose change in sight. That might sound silly, but, he says, even a small amount of change is a natural attraction that makes breaking a window seem like a “must do.” Sounds a little crazy, but the says it’s true.


Think you are safer parked on a sleepy suburban street than a busy city block?

Nope. Thieves love the quiet, low lighting, low foot traffic. A quiet suburban street is a thief’s shopping mall. They can smash a window, clean out the car (or take the car) in a matter of seconds.


Why bother locking your car when you’re only leaving it for a minute?

Our thief says it takes less than 20 seconds to break your window and get what they want. They figure once they break the window, police may arrive in 60 seconds. So a thief wants to be out in less than 20 seconds, closer to 10.


Other targets that will attract a thief “just because.”

Hood ornaments and spare tires that are visible but not chained to the vehicle.


Deterrents that make your car too much trouble:

The Club will often make a thief look elsewhere, even though a steering wheel could be cut and the Club removed, the thief says this may take too long. Generally if the thief has the car to himself and the car is expensive, a Club makes it not worth the effort.

Another deterrent, says the, is a blinking light on the dashboard that signifies a car alarm. He adds, you can buy a fake light that doesn’t even connect to an alarm. And runs on little battery. A quick check of showed you can buy one for under $9. Thieves know they might be fake, he says, but it’s not worth the risk.


Think Your Older Car is not a Target?

According to, a brand new BMW or other pricey new car may be new and beautiful, but newer cars are too heavily armed with advanced technology. That’s good news if you have one. And bad news for those of us driving older cars that we thought nobody wanted. Older cars are easier to steal. Chances are, if yours is stolen you’ll never see it again. Thieves either sell the car to a scrap yard, or part it out and make a great deal more money.

Bottom line: don’t assume nobody wants your old hooptie.

The 10 Most Likely to Be Stolen Cars by model and year (2014, latest statistics available, provided by

Honda Accord (1994, 1996, 1997)

Honda Civic (1997, 1998, 2000)

Ford-F Series full-size pickups (2004, 2005, 2006)

Chevrolet full-size pickups (1999, 2003, 2004)

Toyota Camry (1991)

Dodge Ram full-size pickups (2001, 2004, 2005)

Dodge Caravan (2000, 2002, 2003)

Nissan Altima (2013)

Acura Integra (1994 and 1995)

Nissan Maxima (1996)


Was Your Car Really Stolen, or…?

Ever think your car must’ve been stolen, then realize that you just forgot where you parked it? It’s probably happened to everyone. But how many people actually report the elusive car stolen? It depends on the city. Tim Dees is a retired cop and criminal justice professor with the Reno, Nevada, Police Department. He said that in Reno, as many as half of the stolen car reports were actually “misplaced.” Or is it “misparked?”

People drive for hours to get to Reno to gamble and visit the great buffets. They get mesmerized, park wherever they can without paying attention, and follow the siren call of the bright casino lights. Hours later, when it’s time to leave, said Dees, they realize they have no idea where they parked. After a fruitless search, many of them flag down a patrol car, or call 9-1-1. “I know it was near a casino,” the car owner says. Uh, yeah, that doesn’t help.

Know this, said Dees: Officers on duty won’t likely ferry you around the city looking for your car. That’s when many people file a stolen car report, knowing the car probably was not stolen. Don’t be that guy. Pay attention to where you park!


Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

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