Prevent Car Burglaries
It has happened too often to too many people – one leaves their car parked by a shopping mall or restaurant, and when they come back they find the windows smashed in. They also notice that any items of value – laptops, phones, bags, new high-tech gadgets – are gone. While there is not much you can do after a car burglary, there is a lot you can do to prevent this nightmare scenario from happening. This wikiHow will show you some of the ways you can deter car break-ins.
Preventing Car Break-Ins
- Get a good car alarm system. Some systems come with built-in cameras to record burglaries in progress. Others come with monitoring so that you are notified if someone breaks into your car. A good car alarm system is going to deter most thieves.
- Park in a location visible to CCTV and security. Find a parking lot that has extensive CCTV monitoring and park there. For example, at a shopping mall, locate the CCTV cameras and the security towers inside the car park. Parking there significantly reduces the likelihood of car break-ins.
- Park in an indoor parking facility. If your neighborhood is experiencing car break-ins, an easy way to avoid your car being broken into is to park indoors or in a secure area. If your home has a garage, use that. At your office or apartment complex, try to park somewhere restricted to those who work or live there.
- Do not leave valuables inside your car. If you mistakenly brought your laptop or tablet with you (or your computer bag), you should take it with you if you can. Do not even leave valuables in the trunk or front of your car – car burglars are experienced with opening these without the key.
- Electronic devices will emit an electromagnetic signal easily detectable by receivers, meaning that a burglar can pinpoint the location of the electronic device with high accuracy.
- Maintain GPS tracking on your own prized possessions. All electronic devices come with a "find my" feature that allows you to locate the device, but not all are able to report the location without a cell signal. A GPS tracker will allow you to locate your devices, even if they are dead, should they become lost or stolen.
- Lock your car. This may sound obvious, but some forget to lock their car. Not doing so is an invitation for burglars to get into your car. If you are unlucky enough to have even left your keys in your car, you may find it gone in a matter of minutes. Keep your car locked to stop most car break-ins, even if you live or work in an area with a low crime rate.
- Report suspected car burglars to the police. For this to be the case, you must have good reason to think that they are here to burglarize. For example, if you see someone loitering behind the parking lot, that is good reason to be suspicious.
Reacting to Car Break-Ins
- Remain calm. While it may be surprising to return to your car with the window smashed or your possessions gone, it is important to know that there is still a little hope to get them back. If you take action swiftly, then you may even help police find and arrest car burglars.
- Call the police. If you are a victim of a car break-in, it is a good idea to call the police right away. They may be able to provide you with assistance.
- Contact your insurance company if your car is damaged. If your window is smashed, then it may be covered by insurance. Call them at roadside assistance over the phone or with the "roadside assistance" button inside the car.
- Call your bank. If you left your debit or credit card or checks inside of your vehicle, you should call your bank to have the accounts associated with them frozen or closed. Thieves may attempt to drain your accounts as soon as possible, so this is a crucial step to stopping fraudulent transactions.
- Note anything that is missing. If you are missing a laptop bag, purse, tote, or similar bag, try to remember everything that was inside of it. This will be important as it will allow you to file a police report later on.
- Determine if it is safe to drive your car home or to the shop. Because glass can obviously be a cut hazard, you should not use your car if the driver's seat is covered in glass or if there are not enough unoccupied seats in your vehicle. If this is the case, then call for a tow truck to tow your vehicle home or to the shop.
- Check everything inside your home. If your home was not burglarized along with your car, then you should see if any of the missing items is inside of your home. If you cannot find the item at home, then you should report the item as lost or stolen.
- File a police report as soon as possible. Once you can confirm which items are missing, you should send a police report to the jurisdiction where the burglary occurred. Make sure to include the serial number, the model, and the color of the items stolen as well as information about your car, including your VIN number, license plate number, and brand, model, and color. Include your contact information so the police can call you back if they have more questions or find your missing valuables.
- Wait patiently. While in most cases you may not get your stuff back, in a few cases you may end up lucky and be able to reclaim your items at the police station. It may take several months before you are able to get your possessions back after they are claimed by police as they may need to use your belongings as evidence, but once that happens, pickup should not be too difficult.
- Bring proof of ownership to the police station once your belongings are ready. For electronics, you will need to have the serial number of the devices and your ID so they know it is you picking up your belongings. After retrieval, you should check for damage and have any repairs covered under insurance, when possible.
- Insurance may also partially cover a replacement should you be unable to get your belongings back.