Car thefts are more common than you might imagine, and have been on the rise over the past year. There are a number of things you can do to make your car less likely to be targeted. But what about actual car anti theft devices? Are they really car theft prevention? Which ones are best?
Here’s a rundown of the types of devices on the market, which ones are (or are not) likely to be effective, and how they work.
Car anti theft alarm
We’re all familiar with the car alarm. Ever since the mid 80s, these dreaded sirens (many of which have evolved into a sequence of varied noises designed to attract more attention) have shattered the silence. Usually in the middle of the night.
Over the years, they’ve gotten a little more advanced, but they still seem to go off too easily, and too often. Which is why they’re only marginally effective. It’s true that someone breaking into a car isn’t likely to stick around very long while it’s going off, or to go on to steal the car unless they know how to disarm the alarm. But with a lot of smash-and-grabs it isn’t much of a deterrent. The same is true if the car is not in a highly populated or high-traffic area. If people aren’t already there, no one is likely to go too far out of their way to investigate, since they’re so often false alarms.
Car alarms can be effective at preventing a break-in or theft, if they have a flashing red light or stickers to warn potential thieves. But it’s also likely that your car will suffer a broken window, or worse damage, before the alarm deters anything further.
Anti theft immobilizer
Like car alarms, the immobilizer has been standard equipment on a lot of cars manufactured in the last 20 or so years. Most of us don’t even notice it, but basically it prevents your car from starting unless there’s a special transponder (embedded in the key) present. This prevents the car from being hotwired, or from being started with an unauthorized copy of your key.
Immobilizers are very effective. The only downside is that occasionally, especially as cars get older, the immobilizer can malfunction. It’s usually a simple fix, but in the meantime your car won’t start, so… that can be a big inconvenience (but hopefully will never happen to you).
Steering wheel lock
Anyone who lived through the 90s probably remembers commercials with law enforcement officers extolling the effectiveness of the Club. And who could forget the slogan ‘”If you can’t steer it, you can’t steal it”? (Which probably isn’t 100% true, but you wouldn’t get very far unless you had a long, straight route of escape).
For those who don’t remember all of that, the Club was (and still is) a red, extensible bar with a lock on it. You lock it onto your steering wheel, and when would-be thieves spot its brightly-colored handle, they know their efforts would be foiled. So they head the other way, leaving your car safe and unstolen. It’s simple, and it works.
The anti theft device that will work best for you depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to prevent the theft of your stereo or other contents, as well as the whole car, or are you more concerned about just the car itself? If it’s the latter, then the Club or an immobilizer are your best options.