8 Best Anti-Theft Devices for Cars
Do you want to stop worrying about your car’s security? There are good reasons to be concerned and I don’t blame you.
According to an FBI report, 707,758 cars were stolen in 2015 in the US alone. And we’ve had an increase in car theft cases of 7.4 percent in 2016 and another 4 percent increase in 2017. on top of that. Some of the major weaknesses exploited by carjackers are: keys left in the ignition, doors left unlocked and windows down.
Another common weakness was lack of visibility of the parking space. Large vans are often used by carjackers in the parking lot to conceal their actions. They park next to the victim’s car and do the dirty work without being noticed.
The target is not always the entire car, but the extra equipment such as the car stereo, headlights, parts under the hood like battery and engine, and unrelated items found in the cabin and trunk area.
These unfortunate scenarios can be avoided by upgrading your car with one or multiple security devices. There are excellent anti-theft devices for cars that could make stealing your 4-wheeler harder than the latest Mission Impossible.
This is a top 10 list based on experts’ advice and user experience:
1. Steering wheel lock
This is a tough pole that is attached to the steering wheel. When it’s on, it keeps the steering wheel in place by making it impossible to turn. It’s also an affordable solution, costing between $10-$50.
It’s easy to place on the steering wheel and it takes little space, making it convenient for smaller cars. It’s almost impossible to remove this lock without having the key or the lock combination, depending on the product you use. Breaking it would require a powerful hacksaw and A LOT of time. Just seeing a lock planted on the steering wheel will stop most thieves from even thinking about stealing your car.
Expert Tip: The Club 1000 Original Club Steering Wheel Lock (aff. Amazon link) is regarded by many security experts as the best lock due to it’s thick steel construction which is resistant to sawing. It’s a simple low-tech solution which is also very versatile since it can be used in cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs. See how The Club works in this video:
2. Wheel lock
A wheel (or tire) lock is placed on the tire to keep it from moving. The way it works is obviously very similar to the steering wheel lock. However, this is a larger device that requires space in the trunk.
It’s also typically not used for short stops. But if you’re parking your car somewhere for a few hours or during the night it’s a very powerful security measure.
I would especially advise using it when parking overnight and half-empty public garages which are an ideal place for carjackers, especially if there are no surveillance cameras around.
The best wheel lock for security purposes is Trimax TCL65. It can be used for cars, trailers, boats, ATVs and other vehicles. Furthermore, it’s unique design makes it possible to chock the wheel when installed to keep rolling. It’s made of powder coated steel, and it has rubber coated arms that protect the wheel finish. It also has an advanced pick-resistant locking mechanism.
3. Kill switch
This device is sometimes difficult to install but it’s really effective. It works by disrupting the flow of electricity to the fuel pump or other critical systems in the car. This makes it impossible to start the car without flicking the switch.
Keeping the kill switch hidden will frustrate any potential car thief to the point where they’ll quit. The cool thing about this method is that you can install multiple switches and create an order through which they need to be flipped.
This would make any potential carjacking really impossible because locating all the switches and actually knowing how to do this would take a very long time. But like I said, this requires some advanced knowledge about the car’s wiring system.
However, there are some devices that make installing a kill switch simple. They combine a remote ignition kill switch with a GPS tracker.
The best example is the Hard Wire Fleet system from Spy Spot. This device can be installed behind the dashboard in any audio shop or car repair shop.
How does it work? Well let’s say someone steals your car, truck or even a boat. You can track down your vehicle, and keep it in place until the police arrives to the location by activating the kill switch remotely through your phone or computer.
This way you get two powerful security devices in one package. This particular product requires a monthly subscription since it’s an actual service. If you have an expensive vehicle it’s certainly worth considering for your personal safety and that of your vehicle.
4. Electronic immobilizer
These work in a similar way to a kill switch. It’s also an in-built device in many newer cars. It prevents the car from starting without receiving a radio signal from the key or the key fob.
So without the correct key, the thief won’t be able to start the engine and steal the car. Unless of course they find a way to bypass this system. Which is why I also suggest using another security device to bolster your defenses.
The Avital 4105L is a very popular electronic immobilizer that’s easy to use. I suggest checking it out if you’re interested in this idea.
5. Baby monitor
A simple wireless baby monitor with night vision can be a very practical anti-theft device. You can leave it in the car and get live feedback of everything that’s going on.
Battery-powered monitors are the most practical. Because you don’t even have to take it out of the car to recharge. Simply replace the battery and it’s good to go.
It’s best to keep the monitor in a visible spot by a window because seeing the camera will make many car thieves lose interest. If they don’t see it however, you’ll still have video footage of what happened, which can help you and the police track down the thief more easily.
If you plan on using a baby monitor, make sure that you turn the audio up so that you hear any loud noises like windows being smashed or someone trying to open the door or the hood of your vehicle.
6. Electronic tracking system
Electronic tracking systems use GPS to track down stolen cars. You can easily install this device in your car and in case of a carjacking it will show where you car is.
I’ve already shared one that has a remotely operative kill switch as well. That’s really the ultimate combination. But if you want only a GPS tracker, there are more affordable options and without a monthly fee.
Vyncs GPS tracker is the best tracker of this type. It doesn’t even require a battery since it draws power through an OBD-II port. It has many cool features so check out the product description on Amazon to learn more.
7. Hood lock
As the name says, a hood lock is used to prevent the thief from stealing engine parts or anything else that’s under the hood. It’s usually a very sturdy metal lock that can’t be smashed easily, so unless they have a key, your hood will always be safe.
This is a great mechanical hood lock cable and ignition kill immobilizer all-in-one. You’ll probably need to ask a professional to install it for you but you can rest assured that no carjackings will happen with this bad boy on.
8. Car alarm
Alarms are the most popular security device for cars. If someone tries to smash the window or open the car with a wrong key, or through sheer force it will produce a loud, annoying sound.
Some alarms are more sensitive than others. So if something falls on the car or someone bumps into it accidentally it can start to beep. This can lead to some false alarms, but that’s nothing unusual nowadays. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many new cars already have an in-built alarm system. If your car doesn’t have it, I highly recommend purchasing one. The Avital car alarm package is the most popular and has excellent user reviews. Placing a sticker warning that your car has an alarm is also a good way to make potential carjackers look for an easier target.
Car Security Tips 101
- Always lock your car, even if you’ll be back in a few minutes.
- Don’t keep any windows down when you’re away from the car.
- Never leave your key in the ignition.
- Don’t keep important documents or a lot of cash in your car unless you absolutely have to.
- Hide valuable possessions from sight. Tinted windows can help in this regard.
- Park smart. Well-lit areas are the best. Avoid parking in public garages or remote locations which don’t have security cameras or guards.
- Install an outdoor security camera at home to keep an eye on your garage or your car if you park outside.
- Use additional locks. Use a hood lock and steering wheel lock. For extra security, consider a tire lock when parking for longer periods of time.
- Use a car alarm. It’s a cheap and small device that makes a big difference.
- Use a tracking device. For absolute security, a DIY tracking system or one that is integrated with police systems will ensure you can locate your car fast in case of a carjacking.
Implementing these tips will keep your car safe from carjackers, who’ll in most cases decide to exploit cars with more security weaknesses. And the Lord knows those are easy to find!
My car security experiment:
One night my friend and I did a security experiment. We were strolling through a random street at nighttime and tested doors on all the parked cars to see if they were locked or not.
The result was amazing: almost half of the cars were unlocked! It could be a fluke, I don’t know because we didn’t repeat the experiment since then. But it goes to show how careless and naive some people are about securing their assets. Until their car gets stolen for the first time and their Disney mindset get’s squashed by the unforgiving boot of reality.
The moral of the story: don’t be careless like that. We were good guys performing an experiment, but you never know when the bad guys will decide it’s time to exploit this naivety. If you use just one visible security device, no reasonable thief would have a reason to mess with your car when there are so many easier targets available.
Unless you have a really expensive car, which makes it a more appealing target. In that case you should invest more in security, not just for deterring but for preventing carjackers or tracking them down in case they manage to break through the first lines of defense.
Read this before buying a car security device!
The devices recommended above are all very useful, but they also have different uses. For example, a hood lock will prevent the thief from accessing the engine compartment. But they can still enter the car cabin and steal the valuable possessions you have inside. And unless the hood lock is equipped with an ignition kill immobilizer they can also drive the car away.
It becomes obvious that using only the hood lock is not enough to completely secure the car. To prevent a carjacking it would be beneficial to have a steering wheel lock in place as well. Or even better, a strong wheel (tire) lock which would make your vehicle completely immovable.
My point here is not to analyze each security device all over again. I just want to remind you that each of them has a unique purpose. You’ll get the best car security by combining them, instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket and hoping for the best.
So I hope this information helps you to upgrade your car into a mobile fortress that will place fear into the heart of any carjacker who happens to be searching the parking lot for an easy victim.