Cars are becoming more advanced, but they’re not necessarily more difficult to steal — technology is merely forcing thieves to learn new tricks. If you routinely leave your vehicle in an area known for crime, we suggest taking a handful of basic measures to protect it and the belongings you leave inside. An anti-theft device isn’t always cheap, but it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll find your car where you left it.
Here are the best vehicle anti-theft devices for 2020.
Steering wheel lock
Steering wheel locks are one of the oldest and best-known theft prevention devices on the market today. A steering wheel lock attaches to the steering wheel of the car to lock it in place, preventing someone from driving away. There are two main styles for this lock. The first goes across the steering wheel horizontally and attaches to the wheel at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. On one side the lock extends farther, preventing the wheel from turning very far. The second style attaches to the top of the wheel with the end extending over the front dash to prevent the wheel from turning. The Club is one of the most popular models.
You have probably seen these used by police if a car is parked illegally, but they are also useful as an anti-theft device. If you have space in your trunk, a tire lock (or boot) is a great way to prevent a carjacking. This is only feasible if you are parking your car for an extended amount of time, though. It just doesn’t make sense to attach a boot every time you stop to fill up your tank or run into your favorite coffee shop for a double espresso. This also won’t prevent anyone from breaking in and stealing things, so continue locking your doors.
Video cameras are great deterrents, as would-be thieves don’t want to be caught on film breaking into your car. Unfortunately, cameras can be expensive and may not be able to show you a real-time picture of what’s happening. Baby monitors are great for this purpose because they’re mostly affordable, can transmit pictures, and can run on a separate battery to keep them off of your vehicle’s power supply.
Kill switches are one of the more advanced anti-theft devices. They work by disrupting the flow of electricity to the fuel pump or other critical systems, making it impossible to start the car without flicking the switch. Thieves want to complete their robbery as quickly as possible, so making their task more difficult will most likely motivate them to move on to the next car. Keeping the kill switch hidden out of view (under the dashboard, for example) typically does the trick. Installing a kill switch is difficult, though, so we suggest installing this device only if you, or a friend, has intimate knowledge of the vehicle’s wiring systems.
Electronic tracking system
The harsh truth of carjacking is that if a thief really wants your ride, they’ll find a way to take it. Someone can put your car on a flatbed and figure out how to remove a tire lock or a steering wheel club later. While an electronic tracking system is not an anti-theft device, it will help police find your car after it has been stolen.
Using GPS and sometimes other technology like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, tracking devices relay your vehicle’s location to a server that can then transmit the data to a smartphone or to law enforcement. It’s worth noting that many of these devices come with a monthly service charge that averages around $10.