Car thefts are up. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself

The number and rate of auto thefts across the country has grown significantly in recent years.

One possible reason for this shift is that thieves are now sending the cars they steal directly overseas, where they become harder to track and recover. Fraud has a significant impact on insurance: not only does it pose serious problems for victims, but it also drives up auto insurance costs.

Besides storing your vehicle in a garage, here are measures you can take to help prevent theft and recover your ride if the worst happens.

Be smart about keys
Instead of jimmying open a window or stealing your keys outright, many car thieves can copy the electronic key for push-button-start cars from a short distance away. Stay out of the range of robbers’ tricks by storing your key fob(s) away from your front door. Another option is to store them in a metal or aluminum container, which blocks the radio signals thieves use to make the copy and then steal your vehicle.

Install anti-theft devices
There are also devices you can attach to your car to deter theft and prevent access to your vehicle. A steering wheel lock is enough of a hassle to break into that many a would-be thief will walk away. You can also install a data port lock, which blocks access to the interface that your dealership plugs into to run diagnostics or program your electronic key. Thieves try to use the port to reprogram your car to work with a key they have ready.

Track your vehicle
There are very small tracking devices, such as Tag, that do not connect to your vehicle’s battery, are difficult for thieves to defeat and can help locate your car if it gets stolen. It’s also important to review your insurance policy to ensure you’re covered in the event your car is stolen.

If your vehicle does get stolen, contact the manufacturer or dealership to see if they can track it. Report the theft to police and your insurance company right away.

Find out more about what to do if you’re a victim of auto theft and tips to prevent it at (NC)