Auto Theft and Burglary Prevention
ofc Mark Pona
The Goal
Auto-theft is very common and frequent! On F.A.U.’s Boca Raton campus alone 43 vehicles were stolen in 1998 and 1999. Human nature usually dictates that we never react to a threat until we become a victim.

The goal of this information is to educate everyone about how much at risk we are when we leave our cars unattended. Included is simple and basic information which, when implemented, greatly reduces the chance of your car getting stolen.

Though stealing a car may be easy, it is just as easy to prevent your car from being stolen. The responsibility falls upon you.

After learning the following information, check with your insurance company regarding discounts that may apply to your policy for the use of a security device (s).

"Kill the Car" - Before the Theives Take It!
First and foremost, the primary goal of protecting your vehicle is preventing unauthorized persons from starting the engine. This may be achieved by various methods.
Car Alarms
Car security systems (also known as "car alarms") are a highly effective way to protect your vehicle. We, unfortunately, have been conditioned to ignore the sounds of car alarms because of the numerous false alarms we hear each day caused by a poor installation or a low quality alarm. This has given the car alarm an undeserved bad reputation since an inexpensive, yet good quality, car security system can be a very dependable and convenient way to protect your car.

The audible part of the alarm, or "siren", is but one attention getting feature of a security system, but most people do not

Realize the "engine kill" or "ignition relay", which are included with all good quality security systems will prevent the engine from starting and/or running if the alarm is activated.

A properly wired ignition relay (termed: "normally open") will prevent the car from starting even if the alarm system is ripped out of the car, which has been known to happen often.

In addition, flashing lights, loud sirens, optional motion sensors and other features, both included and optional, help to attract attention to your vehicle if an attempt to burglarize or steal your car is made. Modern security systems allow the siren to be personalized so you can audibly tell if it’s your car’s alarm sounding in the distance.

Modern alarms, of good quality, have built-in protection from "code-grabbers". A code-grabber is a receiver / transmitter which thieves use to learn, copy and then re-transmit your alarm’s frequency in order to disarm and, in some cases, unlock the doors. Auto theft has become quite sophisticated, but there is protection from it!

Kill Switches
The most effective device, which happens to be the least expensive device, is the manually operated "kill" switch. A good quality, heavy duty switch can be purchased for under $8 and installed for little to no cost by most anyone with knowledge of simple automobile electronics.

Some suggested areas that a kill-switch can control would include the starter relay (to prevent cranking of the engine), ignition system, computer, and fuel pump (to prevent the engine from starting or running). The switch, once installed in a hidden location, is simply

Switched "off" and if an unauthorized driver tries to start or drive the car, the car would simply not run.

One drawback to only using a kill-switch is that it isn’t a visual deterrent, so an attempt to gain entry or steal the

Vehicle may still occur and damage is an almost certainty. However, if the switches are successfully hidden, the end result will be that your car will still be in place after the incident. Consider this the "lesser of two evils".

Steering Column Guards
One vital area to protect on any car is the steering column and more specifically around the ignition key area. It has become a "weak" area and thieves are taking advantage of it.

Many devices are available, both removable and permanently mounted, which cover / shield the vital areas of the steering column from thieves. On many cars, this is more of a deterrent than a car alarm due to the extreme ease in stealing particular cars.

Steering Column Guards
Devices or locks which are commonly known as clubs are a simple and effective method to protect your vehicle from some thieves. However, these devices are easily defeated. Rather than destroy the device, the thief typically cuts the steering wheel which, in turn, allows easy removal of the device.

To combat this, manufacturers have created a secondary device, similar in appearance to a garbage can lid, which mount over the steering wheel and is the locked on by the club-type device. This combined method of protection greatly reduces the thief’s ability to cut the steering wheel and remove either device.

Anti-Carjacking Systems
Anti-carjacking systems operate in a manor similar to a car security system, however they are designed to activate as the car is being driven. Generally speaking, if an attempt is made to remove the car from the driver’s possession, or remove the driver from the cars possession, the anti-carjacking system

Arms and then kills the engine within a pre-set amount of time unless a secret procedure is performed. This system allows enough time for the driver to turn over the car to the "bad guy" and run away. Within seconds the car will stop running and force the thief to abandon the car where it sits.

VIN Etching
Vin etching is a method to permanently mark the glass panels (windows) with the vehicle’s identification number. This aids to prevent the car from being stolen for the sole purpose of re-using the windows to repair another vehicle. Depending on the vehicle, it may be cheaper for a dishonest body shop to hire a thief to steal the glass piece rather than purchase it legally.
Smart Advice to Prevent Theft and Burglary
  • Do not attach anything to your key ring that may identify them as being from your vehicle. If your keys are lost or stolen, the last thing you want is for the thief to know which car they belong to, especially if they now have your car alarm’s transmitter.

  • If you must park away from people, try to park in the open, well-lit areas to prevent your car from being hidden by surrounding cars. A thief will often crouch down between parked cars to hide himself while attempting to burglarize, vandalize or steal a car.

  • Always park near busy areas of the parking lot. Human traffic is a very good deterrent to prevent an auto burglary or theft.

  • Keep all possessions in the vehicle out of sight! I have often seen cars burglarized for inexpensive items and pocket change. A thief will cause a lot of damage if even for only a few dollars.

  • Always lock your vehicle, even in your garage.

  • Hide the your car’s registration so thieves can’t find it. Would you be comfortable if felons knew where you lived? They just burglarized or stole your car, where do you think they’re heading next?

  • Remove cellular phone (and other) power cords from cigarette lighter sockets and replace the lighter. Many cars are have been burglarized because the thief saw the cord or missing lighter and assumed an electronic device had recently been plugged in and simply stowed under the front seat. Most of the time they were correct!

  • Even if your car is empty, leave the cigarette lighter in the socket. Is it worth having the window broken out just because they wanted to see if a phone or cd player is in the glove box or under the seat?

  • Always keep information about your car readily available in case you must relay it to the police.

    For example:

    • License plate number
    • VIN number
    • Year, Make, Model and Color
    • Any and all identifying marks or owner applied items
    • Any information that might help the police identify the car at a glance

  • Hide the your car’s registration so thieves can’t find it. Would you be comfortable if felons knew where you lived? They just burglarized or stole your car, where do you think they’re heading next (especially if they find your house keys in the car!).

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