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Guide to Car Theft Prevention: Stop Thieves in Their Tracks!

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), more than one million vehicles were reported stolen, and overall vehicle thefts increased about one percent nationwide from 1,008,756 in 2022 to 1,020,729 in 2023.

But it’s not just about the car itself. Thieves often target vehicles for valuables left inside, and in some cases, a stolen car can even be used in a crime, putting your safety at risk.

This guide is here to empower you. We’ll show you how to secure your vehicle, prevent break-ins, and even stop the growing threat of keyless car thefts. By following these simple yet effective tips, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing your car – and everything inside it – is safe.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

Modern Thieves, Modern Methods: Gone are the days of smashed windows. Today’s car thieves use tech-like signal relay attacks to exploit weaknesses in keyless entry systems.


Know Your Car’s Weaknesses: Some car models are easier targets due to weak key fob encryption or lack of additional security features like steering wheel locks. Research your car’s security!

Layer Up Your Physical Defenses: Steering wheel locks, tire locks, window etching, aftermarket alarms, and immobilizers all work together to make your car a less attractive target.

Smart Habits Make a Big Difference: Park in well-lit areas, never leave valuables in sight, keep your key fob shielded in a Faraday pouch, and double-check that your doors are locked.

Extra Security for Keyless Cars: Faraday pouches, disabling fob signals (if possible), and aftermarket security systems like GPS trackers or alarms provide an extra layer of protection.

Locksmiths Are Your Security Allies: Consult a professional for recommendations on security upgrades, lock improvements, and recovery assistance.

Understanding Modern Car Theft

Gone are the days of smashed windows and hotwiring. Today’s car thieves are tech-savvy criminals, armed with sophisticated tools and exploiting vulnerabilities in modern vehicles. This guide dives deep into the different methods they use, from traditional break-ins to shockingly simple hacks that bypass security systems. We’ll expose the ease with which some cars can be stolen, and show you how to protect your prized possession.

Different methods thieves use:

Traditional Break-Ins:

  • Smash and Grab: This brute-force approach involves breaking a window to gain entry. Often used to steal valuables left in sight, but the car itself can be driven away too.
  • Tampering with Locks: Thieves might use tools like slim jims to pry open doors or exploit weaknesses in older lock designs.

Keyless Car Theft (Relay Attacks):

This method exploits vulnerabilities in keyless entry systems. Here’s how it works:

  • Signal Boosting: A device amplifies the signal from your key fob, tricking the car into thinking the key is nearby even if it’s inside your house. The thief can then open the door and start the car.
  • Relaying the Signal: Two devices work together. One sits near your key fob, capturing the signal, and the other relays it to the car, allowing unauthorized entry.

Other Technological Methods:

  • Scanning & Code Grabbing: Some thieves use scanners to capture the code your key fob transmits when near the car. This code can then be copied and used to unlock and start the vehicle.
  • OBD Hacking: The onboard diagnostics (OBD) port is a computer interface in most cars. Savvy thieves with specialized tools can potentially exploit weaknesses in the OBD system to bypass security and steal the car.

Ease of Stealing Certain Cars:

Unfortunately, some car models are easier targets due to their security systems. Here’s why:

  • Weak Keyless Entry Systems: Cars with poorly encrypted key fob signals or those with a larger range for unlocking are more susceptible to relay attacks.
  • Lack of Additional Security: Vehicles that solely rely on keyless entry without features like steering wheel locks or immobilizers offer easier access for thieves.

Remember: Newer doesn’t always mean more secure. It’s important to research the specific security features of your car model and consider adding extra layers of protection like steering wheel locks or aftermarket alarms.

The Locksmith's Guide to Prevention

Car break-ins are a frustrating reality, but fear not! This guide is your roadmap to keeping your vehicle secure, brought to you by the experts themselves – locksmiths. We’ll delve into both physical security measures and everyday habits you can adopt to become a fortress on wheels. So, buckle up, and let’s deter those would-be thieves!

Physical Security Measures:

Physical security measures are like putting up layers of defense around your car to make it less attractive to thieves and more difficult to steal. Here’s a breakdown of the ones you mentioned, recommended by locksmiths:

  • Steering wheel locks: These visible devices make it hard to turn the steering wheel, preventing the car from being driven. They act as a deterrent and can be a good first line of defense.

  • Tire locks: These clamp onto a tire, making it impossible to drive the car. They are a strong visual deterrent and offer another layer of security.

  • Window etching: This involves permanently etching a unique identification number onto your car’s windows. This makes stolen cars easier to identify and less valuable to thieves.

  • Aftermarket alarms and immobilizers: These electronic systems add another layer of security. Alarms can deter thieves with loud noises and flashing lights, while immobilizers prevent the engine from starting.

Here’s why locksmiths recommend these specific measures:

  • They are relatively inexpensive: Compared to car security upgrades from dealerships, these are cost-effective ways to improve security.

  • They are easy to install: Most of these can be installed yourself or by a locksmith without needing complex modifications.

  • They are visible deterrents: Thieves often target easy opportunities. Seeing a steering wheel lock or a window etching can make them think twice about targeting your car.

  • They offer multiple layers of security: By combining these methods, you make it more time-consuming and difficult for a thief to steal your car.

It’s important to note that no single measure is foolproof. However, using a combination of these physical security measures can significantly reduce your car’s risk of theft.

Everyday Habits for Car Owners:

These every day habits can significantly reduce the risk of theft or damage to your car and belongings. Let’s break them down:

Parking in Well-Lit, Populated Areas:

  • Deterrence: Thieves prefer to operate under the cover of darkness and in secluded areas. Parking in a well-lit spot with good visibility from people discourages them from targeting your car.
  • Witnesses: If something suspicious happens, there’s a higher chance of someone noticing and potentially intervening or reporting it.

Never Leaving Valuables in Plain Sight:

  • Opportunity Makes the Thief: An unattended purse, phone, or even loose change left visible can be a tempting target for a smash-and-grab crime.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Keeping valuables hidden in the trunk or a locked glove compartment discourages theft and protects your belongings.

Keeping Key Fobs Shielded:

  • Signal Snatching: Modern key fobs use electronic signals to lock and unlock cars. In some cases, criminals can intercept these signals to gain unauthorized access.
  • Signal Blocking: Keeping your key fob in a metal container or a Faraday pouch blocks the signal, making it much harder for thieves to steal your car using this method.

Double-Checking Doors Are Locked:

  • Peace of Mind: It only takes a moment to confirm all doors are locked, but forgetting can have serious consequences.
  • Develop a Habit: Make a quick visual check or hear the distinct locking sound to ensure your car is secure.

By following these simple habits, you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a target for auto theft or vandalism. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

Extra Security Tips for Keyless Cars

Here’s a breakdown of the extra security tips for keyless cars you mentioned:

1. Faraday Cage Wallets or Signal-Blocking Pouches for Key Fobs:

Traditional key fobs for keyless cars constantly emit a low-powered radio signal that the car can detect. This allows the car to recognize the fob is nearby and unlock the doors when you pull on the handle. Thieves can use a device to amplify this signal and relay it to the car, tricking it into thinking the key fob is present even if it’s actually located some distance away. This is called relay theft.

Faraday cages are metal enclosures that block electromagnetic waves. Faraday cage wallets or signal-blocking pouches are small pouches made with a material that acts like a Faraday cage. By storing your key fob in one of these pouches, you can block the signal from escaping and prevent relay theft. They are a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use way to add an extra layer of security to your keyless car.

2. Disabling Key Fob Signal When Not in Use (if Possible):

Some key fobs have a feature that allows you to disable the signal transmission manually. This can be helpful if you’re storing the fob somewhere for a long time, like overnight. Check your car’s manual to see if your key fob has this feature and how to disable the signal.

3. Upgrading to Additional Security Systems:

There are a number of aftermarket security systems available that can add an extra layer of protection to your keyless car. These can include:

  • Motion sensor alarms: These alarms can detect movement inside the car and sound an alarm if someone tries to break in.
  • GPS trackers: These trackers can be hidden in your car and will allow you to track its location if it is stolen.
  • Security window film: This film makes it more difficult for thieves to smash the windows and gain entry into your car.
  • Steering wheel locks or wheel clamps: These are visible deterrents that can make your car less attractive to thieves.

While these additional security systems can be helpful, they are not foolproof. The best way to protect your car is to use a combination of these tips and park in a well-lit, secure location whenever possible.


Car theft is a serious crime that can leave you feeling violated and financially burdened. By taking proactive steps to secure your vehicle, you can significantly reduce the risk of theft and gain peace of mind.

This guide has equipped you with valuable knowledge and practical tips. Remember, combining multiple layers of security is key. Physical deterrents like steering wheel locks and window etching, along with good habits like parking in well-lit areas and never leaving valuables in sight, form a strong defense.

For keyless cars, consider using Faraday pouches and explore additional security systems like GPS trackers or alarms.

The Benefits of Consulting a Professional Locksmith

Locksmiths are security experts who can offer invaluable advice and services to further enhance your car’s protection. They can:

  • Recommend and install high-quality security measures like after-market alarms and immobilizers.
  • Upgrade your car’s locks to improve their resistance against break-ins.
  • Help you recover if your car is broken into or your keys are lost.

Take Action Today!

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Schedule a consultation with Jones and Sons Locksmith to discuss your car’s specific needs and explore the best security solutions for you. 

By following the guidance in this guide and seeking professional help from a locksmith, you can significantly reduce the risk of car theft and keep your prized possession safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gone are the days of smashed windows. Today, thieves use techie methods like signal relay attacks to exploit weaknesses in keyless entry systems.

Yes, unfortunately. Cars with weak key fob encryption, a larger unlocking range for keyless entry, or those lacking additional security features like steering wheel locks are more at risk.

Locksmiths recommend a layered approach:

  • Visible deterrents: Steering wheel locks, tire locks, window etching
  • Electronic deterrents: Aftermarket alarms, immobilizers (relatively inexpensive and easy to install)

Here are key things to remember:

  • Park in well-lit, populated areas.
  • Never leave valuables in plain sight.
  • Keep your key fob shielded in a Faraday pouch to block the signal.
  • Double-check to confirm all doors are locked before walking away.

Here are a few options:

  • Faraday cage wallets or signal-blocking pouches for key fobs
  • Disabling the key fob signal when not in use (if possible)
  • Upgrading to additional security systems: motion sensor alarms, GPS trackers, security window film

 Locksmiths can offer valuable advice and services like:

  • Recommending and installing security systems
  • Upgrading car locks
  • Helping you recover if your car is broken into

By following these tips and partnering with a professional, you can significantly reduce the risk of car theft and keep your car safe.

While a garage offers more security than street parking, it’s not foolproof. Consider these additional tips:

  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Ensure good lighting inside the garage.
  • If possible, park your car further back in the garage, making it harder to steal unnoticed.

Some keyless car systems come with built-in GPS tracking. You can also install aftermarket GPS trackers that allow you to monitor your car’s location in real time if stolen.

Do not confront the thief. Your safety is paramount. Call the police immediately and report the incident.

Here’s what to do if your car is stolen:

  • Report the theft to the police as soon as possible. Provide them with details like your car’s make, model, license plate number, and any distinguishing features.
  • Contact your insurance company and report the theft.
  • If you have a GPS tracker installed, use it to try and locate your car. (Never attempt to recover the car yourself)

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of recovering your stolen car and minimize the hassle of the situation.

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