It’s never a great feeling to fall victim to a predatory thief, whether that’s at home or when it comes to your car. Thankfully, there are some behavioural basics and aftermarket car security products that can help deter or stop car thieves in their tracks.
Everything you need to boost your car’s security
Good habits to boost your car security
They say the best things in life are free, and that’s true of some of the basic behaviours that can help make your car less of an ideal target for opportunistic thieves. For starters, always secure your car keys and remember to lock your car. Modern cars may automatically lock a car after the keys are a certain distance away from the vehicle, but it’s best to get into the habit of manually locking the car.
Similarly, don’t leave car windows open (not even a crack). It’s also advisable not to leave a spare key near the vehicle. Your convenience is a thief’s ease of access. And when you park, try to ensure it’s a secured area. If it’s not in a garage at home or a secure car park out and about, try to find a well-lit area with great visibility to help mark your car as less of a target.
If a would-be car thief does approach your car, you don’t want anything of value in plain view. For valuables that can’t come with you, keep them in the boot or in the glove box. In a pinch, you can hide valuables under car seats or anywhere else that’s out of sight from anyone peering in looking for a reason to break into your car.
Cheap car security upgrades
Cameras, car alarms, and car immobilisers (more on those below) may be go-to solutions for boosting vehicle security, but they’re not the only options. If you want cheaper protection, there are a few cost-effective options.
For starters, the old-faithful steering wheel lock can be bought for as little as $30 but more expensive models cost closer to $100. Snap a steering wheel lock into place whenever you leave your car, and we advise attaching the lock keys to your car keyring for convenience.
Alternatively, for a more obvious external deterrent, invest in an anti-theft wheel lock or wheel clamp for under $50. Whether you get a lock or clamp, this device is designed to hamper a car wheel from spinning, offering a physical (and visual) deterrent for would-be thieves. Admittedly, while wheel locks are roughly the size of a steering wheel lock, wheel clamps are larger, so factor in boot space if you want to use one of those.
The final cost-effective security upgrade is subtle but also increases the chances of a car thief putting your vehicle into the too-hard basket. Your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) can be found in one or multiple spots—the windshield, the door post, and/or the engine block—but this car-identifying number is generally out of sight. VIN etching, via DIY kit (for around $100) or a professional, can act as a theft deterrent by adding the VIN to more visible spots, like your car window/s. The idea is that a savvy thief will see the in-plain-view VIN and realise they can’t easily sell your stolen car.
Car alarms, car cameras, and car immobilisers
The cheaper options are good for basic DIY upgrades, but there are more robust solutions. For starters, consider either upgrading your car alarm system or installing a new one if you’re in an older vehicle that doesn’t have one. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars for a standalone alarm or alarm upgrade, plus you can choose add-ons of around $100 each for various alarm sensors (glass breaking, shock, tilt, etc.). Additionally, investing in a dash cam for between $40 and $400 can offer a visual deterrent or constant recording (if you get a hardwired model with ‘parking mode’).
Car immobilisers are also worth considering, particularly for older cars. Newer cars tend to already have these as the codes required to start the engine are contained within the car’s specific key. Otherwise, aftermarket versions start at around $200 and go up to around $500 if you want all the bells and whistles, plus professional installation.
Finally, if your car is stolen, all is not lost if you invest in a GPS car tracker to show your vehicle’s whereabouts. Expect to pay around the $200 mark for a GPS tracker that uses 4G connectivity. Note that any GPS car tracker with 4G connectivity will need a SIM card, so you may need to provide that separately. GPS car trackers shouldn’t use much data, though.
Below is a daily updating list of popular prepaid and SIM-only plans from WhistleOut’s comparison engine that don’t cost more than $20 a month.