In the United States, a motor vehicle is stolen every 40 seconds, which means billions of dollars in loss for individuals across the nation. During 2009, the FBI estimated the average value of a stolen car was $6,505, totaling property losses of more than $5.2 billion for Americans.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, car theft is not something that you can really be ready for. Whether you’re driving a brand-new car or have one that’s 10 years old, the crime could happen to you. Thieves target newer cars for their looks, but also go for older cars because they can sell their parts and make some fast cash.

If the unfortunate event of your car being stolen happens to you, we want to make sure you’re properly prepared. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take to help prevent auto theft and ultimately lower your car insurance rates!.

Set aside an hour of your time and do a “walk-through” of your car. Check for the following 10 things:

  1. Remove all items that contain personal information that can be linked back to you, like a paycheck stub or bank statement. Leaving items like this in a parked car can increase your risk of identity theft.
  2. Don’t keep spare house keys in your car. If they’re stored there, remove them right away. Car thieves aren’t rookies; they know all the clever hiding spaces.
  3. Don’t leave valuables in your car, regardless of whether it’s parked in your driveway or a busy parking lot.
  4. Remove your checkbook or debit card from the vehicle.
  5. Jot down your vehicle’s VIN and keep it in a safe spot inside your home.
  6. Make record of your vehicle’s make, model, year, and exact color.
  7. Take photos of your vehicle, inside and out. This can really help with insurance claims.
  8. Make a photocopy of your insurance card, license, and registration so you can provide it quickly in case of a theft.
  9. Gather receipts for any extra items that have been added to your car, like rims or stereo equipment.
  10. If you have a removable stereo, make sure you take the face plate with you every time you leave the car.

Take additional security measures:
If you have the budget for it, there are also some additional security measures you can take:

  • Consider purchasing a high-tech tracking device for your car.
  • Purchase an AAA membership. This can usually be done for less than $10-15 per month and will be a big help in the event of a theft. It also gives you access to roadside assistance if your car breaks down, you lock your keys inside, get a flat tire, and more.
  • Buy a club-like device that attaches to the steering wheel. This is often a good visual deterrent to thefts (unless you have a very expensive car!).
  • If you invest in an anti-theft system, do your research and don’t go with the bargain option. Invest in something that can truly help protect your car.
  • Consider adding a starter disable switch to your car. This type of device helps prevent thieves from breaking into the steering column to hot wire the vehicle. Others prevent the flow of electricity to fuel can’t get to the engine, thus making it impossible for the car to run.

If you’ve ever had a car stolen then you understand the anguish, fear and anger that results… I hope this article helps prevent theft, which costs you time and money to replace. And remember – never, ever underestimate a car thief!