</p><p>It’s a gut-wrenching experience to discover your car stolen. And though rare, carjacking—having it taken from you while you’re behind the wheel—is even more traumatic. On top of the financial loss, it can be lethal. Over 773,000 motor vehicles were stolen in the United States in 2017—one at about every 45 seconds, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average dollar loss per vehicle theft was $7,708. Auto theft is covered under the comprehensive portion of a car insurance policy. But why not avoid the inconvenience of having to file a claim and replace or repair your vehicle altogether?
Here are seven measures to take to avoid being a victim.
1. Hide Valuables
Don’t give thieves the motivation to break into your car. If you leave personal property in your car, keep it in the trunk.
“Some items—the combination of the vehicle registration and garage door remote control for example—shouldn’t be left in the car at all,” says Pam Hansen Alfred, a State Farm agent in Great Falls.
“Criminals can just steal the remote and the registrations out of that car. Then they have your home address and they’ve got access to your house with your remote,” she says. “If you have a newer car and have the option to program the garage door into a car or a button instead of an actual external remote, you could prevent that.”
2. Secure Your Vehicle
Keep doors locked and windows shut whenever you’re not in your car, even for a few minutes. “People are trusting and they will go out and turn their cars on or they’ll do a remote start and often their keys are in their vehicle and it’s unlocked and people steal their vehicles,” Alfred adds.
3. Use Anti-Theft Devices
Use a security device like a steering wheel lock or a gearshift column lock to deter a would-be thief.
4. Highlight Your Vehicle Identification (VIN)
Use paint or marker to make it stand out. This is your vehicle’s calling card. Police and insurers use the number to make it harder for car thieves to sell a stolen car or its parts.
5. Park in a Secure Area
Choose highly trafficked and well-lit areas. In public parking garages or areas, stay close to guard booths or store entrances. Don’t sit in your car with the door unlocked, or the windows rolled down.
6. Think like a Carjacker
Know the tricks—understand how carjackers lure victims, including bumping your car, pretending to be stranded motorists or flashing their lights toward your car. If you pull over, remain inside with the windows shut, and the door locked. Drive to the nearest police or fire station if you feel a threat.
7. Acknowledge Your Surroundings
Being aware can keep you from becoming a victim. Pay attention to people who appear to be lurking or cars that suspiciously follow you into driveways. Call 911 and use your key fob or other car alarm if you feel threatened.
If your car is stolen, file a police report immediately; then check that your policy covers car theft and get the claims process started, Hansen Alfred urges. Let your insurance professional about the incident as soon as possible. The sooner you do the better chance you have at remembering the detail. Many insurance companies, such as State Farm, use mobile apps that can help you get the claims filing process started immediately.
Pam Hansen Alfred’s office at 2817 10th Avenue South in Great Falls provides auto, home, business, property, life and health insurance. The Great Falls native has been a State Farm agent since 1986 and has a team ready discuss your coverage needs at 406-453-6010 or 800-823-3620.
Great Falls, MT
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