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Vehicle Theft Prevention Devices: Car Alarms and more.

presented by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)
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Almost 24 percent of Americans surveyed had anti-theft devices on their vehicles. However, of those with anti-theft devices, 25 percent said they do not always activate the device.

Protecting Your Vehicle

Professional car thieves can steal any car, but make them work for yours. The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends common sense and a layered combination of anti-theft devices to thwart thieves.

All vehicle theft prevention equipment helps deter criminals. Many anti-theft devices are also effective in protecting your vehicle from burglaries and vandalism.

Steering Wheel Lock: A long metal bar with a lock that fits on the steering wheel and is designed to prevent the steering wheel from being turned. Also acts as a visual deterrent for thieves looking in car windows.

Average Cost: $25 to $100

Benefits: Inexpensive way to keep would-be thieves away. Especially good device to use when layering protection.

Car Alarms: The typical car alarm is equipped with motion sensors, impact sensors and a loud siren or series of tones in the 120-decibel range.

Average Cost: $150 to $1,000

Benefits: The best alarms arm themselves automatically when you leave the vehicle and include an automatic kill switch. The best models also flash the headlights and honk the horn in addition to sounding a siren.

Kill Switches: Kill switches prevent the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until the switch is activated. Starter disablers are also growing in popularity.

Average Cost: $10 to $125

Benefits: It's a hidden switch that needs to be flipped on for the car to start. For their effectiveness as a security device, kill switches are for the most part inexpensive and easy to install.

Electronic Tracking Devices: An electronic transmitter hidden in the vehicle which emits a signal that is picked up by the police or a monitoring station.

Average Cost: $400 to $1,500

Benefits: Very effective in helping authorities recover vehicles before they can be stripped or chopped up.

Electronic Keys: Some car manufacturers have pre-installed electronic anti-theft systems that allow the vehicle to operate only with a correctly coded key.

Average Cost: Standard item in some models.

Benefits: Systems are virtually invisible to thieves, easy to use and reliable.

Steering Column Armored Collars: Collars prevent thieves from breaking into the steering column to hot-wire the vehicle. Some are installed permanently and others must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the vehicle.

Average Cost: $100-$200 installed

Benefits: The collar provides an excellent line of defense for vehicles which can be easily stolen by breaking open the steering wheel column.

Tire Locks: Similar to the circular steel "boots" used by many larger city police departments, tire locks make the car nearly impossible to move. The tire locks are also effective in deterring would-be thieves.

Average Cost: $80-$200

Benefits: Greatly hampers thieves who are looking to make a quick getaway. Not only is the tire lock a strong visual deterrent, but it also provides a formidable challenge for would-be car thieves.

Window Etching: Etching the vehicle identification number onto the window as well as other parts of the car discourages thieves from taking the vehicle and also aids in recovering the vehicle if it is stolen.

Average Cost: $20 to $100 (Some vehicle theft prevention groups provide etching for free.)

Benefits: Chop shop rings thrive on vehicles that have easily removable VINs or none etched on at all. By etching the VIN on important parts of the vehicle, you make your vehicle less attractive to thieves.

Theft-Deterrent Decals: Typical decals identify the vehicle is protected by either an alarm system or national theft prevention company.

Average Cost: $2 to $5

Benefits: Inexpensive way to bluff a car thief.

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