I bet we all know lots of little ways to deal, on a personal level, with car prowls:
Care to share some hints? Yes, yes, I know it’s a symptom of a bigger societal issue, jobs, employment, respect etc, etc, but let’s stick for now to the simple mechanics of getting by.
Prowlers go for the glove box and run off with all the contents, to sort through later. We lost a whole load of stuff that was annoying/expensive to replace but of no value to others : insurance certificate, key to gas cap, owners’ manual etc. BTW it was an 18 year old Civic.
Solution: we now keep that stuff in the pocket on the back of the passenger’s seat.
I used to have a nice car stereo with a detachable face. I naively kept the face under the driver car seat when I parked my car, thinking that having it out of sight would discourage thieves from breaking in. I was wrong, my car was broken into and both were stolen.
Solution 1 (which I did not do) – take the stereo face out of the car when you park it
Solution 2 (which I was forced to do after entire stereo was lifted) – buy a factory-model radio/tape player from Craigslist and install that. I have actually had my car broken into since then, and they left the stereo in place. Wasn’t even worth the effort of removing it! I have a tape adaptor to hook up my iPod with it, and don’t need to bother with cds. Obviously I take the iPod with me when I leave the car.
The only thing I can think of that isn’t obvious is that if you must leave something in the car, hide it *before* you leave your starting point rather than after you arrive. Most people put their valuables away after they park, thinking that as long as it’s not visible, prowlers will pass the vehicle by, but they’ll actually watch you park your car to see where you put your belongings and target that area rather than waste time looking elsewhere.
Back when I had a truck (now happily vehicle-less for 7 months), I parked on the street and always left the doors unlocked and empty of any valuables. I had people rummage through the glove box once and some stolen change another time, but never any damage such as a broken window.
Others on the street who locked their vehicles had more than one break-in, so I felt like my strategy worked.
my friends in NYC used to leave their glove box completely empty and wide open so that anyone passing by would see that there was absolutely nothing to steal (after having several break-ins). They did lock the car, however, since ‘hotwire’ car theft is a problem there. I’ve also been told that if you park on the street you should never leave your car in the same place for more than a day or so, and vary the places you park from day to day.
If you want to protect the item from theft but do not want to remove it from the vehicle then you need a car safe – i.e. gun safe. Available most places for $90 they will prevent enyone looking for a snatch and grab from getting your items. You will have to pay $15 for the cable to connect it around a seat post if you do not want to bolt it through the floor board of your vehicle. And because they are gun safes (TM Gun Vault) they are sales tax free in WA state.
Of course if you want to prevent the damage to the vehicle a form of diversion is necessary – like leaving the empty glove box open to view and the gun safe out of view. Putting a nice H&K or Glock sticker on the back window causes a pause to car prowlers as well.
I have had my car broken into many times (though – knock wood – not since we’ve moved to Seattle), and I’m not sure how to prevent it.
After having almost $1000 damage done to my old beater (they pried the lock off, which made the door not close properly in addition to not being lockable), I left the doors unlocked. In the summer, I’d sometimes leave the windows open, too.
Unfortunately, I only left the FRONT windows open – someone came along and broke one of the back windows to “break in” to my unlocked car… which had nothing of value in it (they apparently agreed, and didn’t take anything, though they tried to pull the stereo out of the dash). (I like to think that they felt silly once they got in and saw that the front windows were already open.)
I’m going to try leaving the glove box hanging open to demonstrate its emptiness, though – that’s a great idea.
when i lived on Capitol Hill i had a crappy, unsophiscated Honda Civic — i chose that vehicle because i parked on the street and knew that i would be a victim of “street war” (break-ins, scraps, dings, etc.). it collected dings and scrapes (thanks to SUVs backing up onto my hood) but never experienced a break-in. there was a time i accidently left it unlocked and found someone sleeping in there. they did rummage through my glove box but it only contained some old cassette tapes. i did have to clean the car though… there was a funky smell.
i had another friend on the Hill that also found someone sleeping in his car… not so pleasant as the person smoked like crazy while in there and put out their cigarettes out on the upholstry. at least my sleeper was a little more considerate.
i now live in leschi and have a nicer car but it stays tucked away in my garage. i love having a garage. :-)