How to Prevent Auto Theft: 12 Expert Tips

It hits you like a ton of bricks. You were only at the Biltmore Fashion Park mall for less than a half-hour and you’re sure you parked your Honda Odyssey in Row B. But it’s gone. You frantically use your key fob to locate it, but no luck.

Did you leave a window open? Did the thieves smash a window? Did you leave any valuables in the car? Your mind races. But it didn’t have to be this way if you had just followed a few simple steps to prevent your car from being stolen.

Sadly, vehicle thefts are on the rise throughout the U.S. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the cost of stolen vehicles in 2019 was upwards of $6 billion. Seventy-five percent of vehicles stolen are automobiles with summer being the worst season for auto theft. In 2019, more than 750,000 vehicles were stolen in the U.S. But here’s the scary part: nearly half of those thefts were the result of driver error.

That’s why the NHTSA designates July as National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.

The good news is that here in Arizona vehicle thefts are down and the state is no longer listed in the nation’s top ten for vehicle theft thanks, in part, to the efforts of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority and multi-agency Vehicle Theft Task Force.

While this is encouraging, it doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down when it comes to protecting your vehicle from things like catalytic converter theft. You can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of car theft by following these 12 expert tips:

Car Thief Steals Purse


1. Don’t leave your keys in the car. 

This may sound like a no-brainer, but many folks who may be in a hurry might leave their keys in the car and wind up regretting it.

2. Close and lock all car doors and windows. 

Take the time to walk around your car and double-check that all doors and windows are locked and don’t forget the sunroof.

3. Hide all valuable items. 

This includes smartphones, tablets, purses, wallets, just-purchased items, and anything else of value. Take your wallet or purse with you.

Parking Lot Sign Valuables


4. Never leave your car running and unattended. 

Even if it’s just to whip into a convenience store for a soda, leaving your vehicle with its engine running is a gamble. 

5. Be extra cautious and aware of your surroundings at night when car thieves are most active. 

Park in well-lit areas and as close to the store or mall entrance as possible.

6. Never leave valuable documents. 

This includes your vehicle title or driver’s license, in your car.

7. Consider installing a robust vehicle anti-theft system. 

These systems range from engine immobilizers to devices that lock the steering wheel. Other systems can track your vehicle’s location if it does become stolen. More and more people are installing car dash cams that can help record thefts or accidents.

8. Be aware of your surroundings. 

Avoid high-crime areas, especially at night. If you’re not sure where these areas are, contact local law enforcement.

9. Never confront or resist a carjacker. 

You can always buy a new car, but you can’t replace yourself.

10. If possible, park your car in your garage even in the daytime. 

Know your neighbors and keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles that may be “casing” your neighborhood.

11. Absolutely do not leave children or pets unattended, even for just a couple of minutes.

A vehicle like the 2022 Honda Odyssey makes this a moot point. With Rear Seat Reminder activated, the Odyssey will alert you to check the back rows for any stragglers, including kids, pets, and gallons of 2% milk. Request a quote for the Odyssey at your nearest Arizona Honda dealership.

Honda Odyssey Rear Seat Renminder


12. Do not hide a spare set of car keys in or near the vehicle.

Convenience for you means convenience for car thieves. Don’t hide any extra keys in your wheel wells, trunk, cargo area, etc. That’s a recipe for disaster.

You can further help deter Arizona car thefts by contacting the Arizona Vehicle Task Force at 602-223-2364 or via email at [email protected] to anonymously report any suspicious activity, illegal chop shops, or stolen vehicles.

“Help! I Think My Car Was Stolen!”

While you might find your car missing, it may not have been stolen. Instead, you may have (accidentally, of course!) parked in a “NO PARKING” zone, a handicapped parking space, tow away zone, or a private parking lot. This means your vehicle was probably towed. Click here for some helpful tips on what to do if your vehicle gets towed.

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