10 Parking Safety Tips For Your Peace Of Mind
If you've chosen to be a car owner—whether out of necessity or personal preference—you will have to face the risks of theft, smash-and-grabs, and other, worse acts of violence against your vehicle when it isn't in use and not parked in a locked space. Even the most secure parking space in the city is still a parking space in a city. That means that it's a target for crime. The good news is, most parking garages this century have CCTV cameras that discourage violent crimes such as carjackings and muggings, and felonies like stealing your whole car.
Even with lower overall crime rates in the UK, the smash-and-grab car burglary is still a hugely popular pastime among petty thieves, and parking garages are the easiest place to get to cars and run without getting caught, no matter how well-trained the guard in the booth might be. It's better than parking on the street, of course, but you still need to take a few precautionary measures to safeguard your vehicle. Here are some of the ways experts recommend you make your parking even safer with simple habits you can start developing today.
Burglar-Proof Your Car With These Tricks
1. Lock Your Doors and Windows
This one seems obvious, but interviews with car burglars and thieves show that they look for unlocked cars in the first stage of a car burglary. They literally go from car to car, testing the handles, until they find one that's been unlocked or one with windows open wide enough to takeadvantage of.
Almost nobody leaves the car open to thieves intentionally, but many busy people do so absent-mindedly because they're already thinking about what's happening at their destination. Always stay aware and mindful as you leave your car.
2. Hide Any Valuables
Stow any items thieves might want (especially the "Big Ten"—see below) out of sight. Your trunk is the best space for such items, but if you can't use it place them under a blanket or jacket in the rear foot wells, out of sight. Thieves will check through the windows of a car to see how much gain they can get from the risk of opening it up. If they don't see anything worth stealing, they're more likely to pass your car by. You'd be surprised by how many hiding spots you have in your car.
Whenever possible, hide those valuables when you enter the car. Don't wait until you're in the parking garage to hide things; you don't know who's watching or waiting for an easy opportunity because you've unsubtly hidden your valuables in your trunk and walked away from your car.
3. Leave Your Space Key at Home (or the Office)
A spare key hidden outside of your vehicle sounds like a convenient solution to getting in after locking yourself out of your vehicle, but there's nowhere you can hide it that experienced thieves don't already know about. Instead, keep the spare in your wallet or purse, or your office desk. Or leave one with the attendant of your garage, if it's one you regularly park your car in.
If you hide a spare key in one of the many known hiding spots on the outside of your car, you can rest assured that the thief will thank you for making their work that much easier.
4. Park Your Car in a Visible Area
If you get to choose where you park, pick a spot with good lighting and clear sight lines to other parts of the garage. If possible, park within site of the parking attendant's booth or station. Thieves don't want to work their trade in places they can be seen, so keep your car out of such
places. If you can't, then favor parking in parts of the garage where there's already a cluster of cars, following the adage, "There's safety in numbers."
If your garage assigns you a regular parking space, talk with management about making sure your assigned space is somewhere visible and well-lit. If that's not an option, consider maybe finding a new garage to park in.
5. Pay Attention While Walking Out
As with remembering to lock up and hiding your valuables before you park somewhere, this is another reason to remain present and aware while you leave your car. Scan the area when you park. Watch out for any sort of suspicious people or activity, like random people skulking around the shadows or seeming to be waiting. Tell the parking attendant about it if you do see anything. If you're comfortable with the idea, let the suspicious people know they've been seen without coming into close contact with them. That alone might send them to easier hunting grounds.
It's never a mistake to tell the attendant about something you saw. The worst case scenario if you're wrong will just result a pleasant conversation with somebody in the garage. The worst case scenario of incorrectly not reporting something is your car getting broken into.
6. Double-Check Your Trunk
As with your car in general, a trunk accidentally left open is a positive invitation to thieves. Give it a quick glance and a test tug whenever you park, and close it tightly if you find it open. This is simple, easy, and takes about two seconds. As a bonus, it lets you naturally turn your body for a full 360-degree scan of the parking area.
7. Install an Anti-Theft Device
The Club got popular in the 90s, and there are literally dozens of less and more expensive versions of this visible theft deterrent. Put one in your car; you won't even have to lock it.
Fun fact: research among car thieves found that having alocked device on your steering wheel made no more difference than having anunlocked device in place. It washaving the device there that made a significant difference. It just signalled that you took car security seriously, and the car wasn't likely to yield enough reward to be worth the risk.
8. Click Your Alarm as You Leave
This is another very simple step you can take, which again is part of making sure you're thinking about parking while you park. As you walk away from your car, press the button on your fob to make the little alarm chirp. This lets everybody within 100 yards know your car is locked, with the alarm active. Anybody watching to spot easy pickings will know to ignore your vehicle.
9. Always Take the "Big Ten" With You
The items most commonly stolen from cars are:
- briefcases/book bags
- laptop computers
- cell phones
- garage door openers
Notice these are all easily portable items. That means you can take them with you. Without them stored in your car, your vehicle is suddenly a much less appealing target for thieves—and even if somebody burglarizes your car, they're less likely to find something they want to take as a result.
10. Clean Your Back Seats
Remember when we suggested you hide valuables in the footwell of your back seat? Thieves know that trick, too, and they'll be looking there if they have the time. Amessy back seat with a pile of random items in that foot well might lead them to believe you're hiding something there. But if that back seat is clean and uncluttered, thieves will see there's nothing in there for them. They'll move on to something more likely to be worth their time.
No parking space, personal home, building, or person is 100 percent safe from crime. It's an unfortunate fact of the world we live in.But...the harder and riskier you make it to target your car, the more likely thieves are to leave you and your possessions alone. They're opportunists
above and beyond all else, so remove their incentives to break into your car.
Take a few minutes to change your parking routine, even if it means thinking about unpleasant possibilities more than you want. This change in behavior will help ensure greater safety for you, your valuables, and your car.
Henry Felder is a car security specialist, working for some of the biggest car manufacturers to ensure ever more efficient security systems in vehicles today.