It seems that we have more valuables on us at all times than ever before. Smartphones, MP3 players, GPS devices, personal firearms, purses, wallets and watches all are usually on our person or at least in our vehicles at all times. While most of those objects make our daily lives easier, they also put us at risk of theft. If you leave your car parked on your driveway or the parking lot of hotel, you need to take every step to ensure that it – and the valuables that it holds – are protected from thieves. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
While most of these seem obvious enough, they do bear bringing up as good first steps to protecting your valuables. First of all, lock your doors and roll up your windows. If someone is going to try to break into your car, not having your car doors locked is like rolling out a welcome mat. Even if you're just stepping away from the car for a moment or two – like when you're running into the convenience store to pick up a drink after you pump gas – lock the doors behind you. If you have any valuables, especially small electronics that can easily be grabbed and resold, don't leave them on your dashboard or in the passenger seat where any passerby can see it. At the very least, store it in your center console or glove compartment. This goes for chargers as well. A few cords strewn around your center console are an indication that there are electronic devices nearby.
Choose a safe spot
If you're leaving your car, especially if it's overnight, be smart about the spot you pick. Parking it on a dark street in a questionable area will definitely result in a higher likelihood of a break-in than than in a secure, video-monitored parking garage. Of course, the latter isn't always an option, but you can still take steps to select a safe spot to park your car. Do your best to leave it in a spot with a lot of foot traffic – preferably near a busy store or restaurant. The key is to keep it in sight of as many people as possible. If a criminal is smashing your window, there's a better chance of someone calling the cops if there are a lot of people around to see it. Well-lit areas are preferable, and those under video surveillance are even better.
Keep your car tidy
Aside from not leaving your brand-new smartphone out in plain view, keeping a generally neat car is another deterrent. If you have lots of boxes or a spread over your back seat, potential thieves may assume you may be hiding something of value. There are many GPS models that anchor to car windshields. Even if the whole contraption is removed, it often leaves a circular smudge on the glass, which indicates a GPS device is likely in the car.
Hide valuables before you park
If you pull into a hotel parking spot and spend five minutes stashing various electronics or other valuables out of sight in different parts of your car, there is a good chance an alert criminal has observed the whole thing and now knows that you have expensive items and where they are hiding. Before you reach your final destination, pull over and stow away these items safely.
Avoid valets if possible
While the vast majority of parking attendants are honest, it only takes one to make off with the GPS you left in the center console or the extra cash you keep in the glove compartment. If you do valet park, remember to lock up your valuables if possible well before arriving.
Invest in a security system
Should someone break into your vehicle, you should make it as difficult as possible for the thief to make off with any of your belongings. There are a few items you can pick up that will help keep your valuables secure. Laptop locks are great for those who need to carry their computers around with them. They'll not only keep your laptop safe from theft, but it will keep it from getting jarred and damaged during transport. A portable safe is a good all-around product for things like cash, electronics, handguns and other smaller valuables. Look for one with a strong cord that can anchor it to your car.
Check your car upon returning
As soon as you get back to your car where you have valuables hidden, check for them immediately. If you do discover anything missing, you'll want to call the police and file a report as soon as possible, which will give you the best possible chances of recovering the stolen items. Remember, a car doesn't have to look ransacked to have been robbed. They may even have taken your laptop and left the case undisturbed.