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Old 12th January 2010, 18:02   #1
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Default ARTICLE: How to protect your car from THEFT

Picture this. You are on a day out with your family. After driving around all day, you settle in to enjoy a movie at your favorite theater, only to come back later to the parking lot and find your car missing! Or waking up one morning to find the car stolen from your own residential parking spot. All this may sound like your worst nightmare come true, but the fact is, car theft is a big business in India. Auto theft is a national-level racket that runs into crores of rupees. Team-BHP tells you how to prevent your car from becoming a mere statistic on police records.

What happens to cars once they are stolen?

Stolen cars from one state are usually sold in another state to unsuspecting buyers. Cross selling across states makes it difficult for authorities to track the cars down. Forged registration papers, supporting documents and a fake registration number are not difficult to procure in India. Often, used car dealers work hand in glove with car thieves, who frequently operate as part of a larger gang. In other cases, these cars are dismantled and individual parts are sold in the open market. Stolen cars can also be used in crimes and then abandoned. In such a situation, there is high potential of a legal problem to the actual car owner.

Which cars are the usual targets for car thieves?

Though a thief can target almost any kind of vehicle, the following cars are “hot favorites”:
  • VFM and popular hatchbacks. The Maruti 800, Alto, Wagon R, Swift, Tata Indica, Hyundai Santro, i10 etc.
  • VFM and popular sedans like the Maruti Esteem, Dzire, Tata Indigo, Honda City, Toyota Corolla etc.
  • MUVs & SUVs like the Mahindra Scorpio, Bolero, Chevrolet Tavera, Toyota Qualis and Innova. Premium SUVs like the Mitsubishi Pajero are darlings too.
The above-listed cars find buyers almost anywhere in the country; this is exactly what thieves look for. Cars that are easy to sell and with minimum fuss.

Last edited by Dippy : 13th January 2010 at 18:11. Reason: used cars = used car
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Old 12th January 2010, 18:02   #2
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Insurance first:
  • Ensure that your car is comprehensively covered, and that the insurance policy is valid. The only thing worse than having your car stolen is then realising that your car's insurance policy has expired!
Keys & Parking:
  • LOCK the car : A simple task, yet one that is often overlooked due to carelessness. Do ensure that all the doors & windows (including sunroof) of your car are sealed tight. A small opening is all that a thief needs to gain access. Be sure to lock even if it’s only a 2 minute stop to pick up that hot coffee from Barista.
  • Residential Parking : Needless to say, nearly all stolen cars are picked up from their parking spot. Parking in a garage or within a building's compound walls is, of course, ideal. For those who have no choice but to park on the street, choose a well illuminated area. Avoid parking in dark and isolated spots. If there is a watchman on guard in a nearby building, giving him a 100 – 200 bucks (monthly) to keep an eye on your car is a good idea.
  • Public Parking : When you visit a mall or a restaurant, use a pay & park lot (not on the public street). And yes, always carry the parking ticket with you (don't leave it in the car). Parking close to public activity, say the entrance of the lot, helps. Thieves are allergic to people and activity.
  • Keep your keys to yourself : Don't let your car keys circulate amongst the building watchmen, car wash guys or even parking lot attendants. Keys have often been duplicated from a leak in this circle. Also, don't leave your car keys in the ignition, even if you are doing a splash & dash to the nearby store.
Anti-theft equipment that works:

The first rule is to understand that there is no such thing as a “theft-proof” car. Hence, the key is to make things as difficult as possible for the thief, thereby deterring him from stealing your car. Make the thief move on to the next “easy prey”.
  • Factory-fitted Immobilizer : Choose a car with a factory-fitted immobiliser (e.g. Maruti iCats). Manufacturer installed systems are typically robust.
  • A pro-grade security system : Buy a security system ONLY from a well reputed brand (e.g. Autocop, Xenos etc.). Choose a system which, along with an alarm, comes with motion + impact sensors. If your car didn't come equipped with a factory immobiliser, check that option out too. GPS-equipped systems with location functionality are also making their way to India (example). Importantly, ensure that the security system is installed by a professional / authorized representative of the company. No 16 year old daily wage labourers at the accessories store please.
  • Additional locks : We highly recommend gear or steering-to-pedal locks from a reputable brand. Not only do these locks make for a visual deterrent to thieves, but the high quality ones are tough to break. There are several options of gear locks (fixed permanently in your car and locks gear in position) and steering-to-pedal locks (one end attached to your steering wheel and the other to your clutch or brake pedal) available in the market.
  • Hidden master switch : Especially popular with the Jeep & Gypsy folk. Such a switch basically breaks the power supply from your battery to the ignition, or shuts off the fuel pump altogether. It is installed at a location in your car that's known only to you. Again, the key is to deter the thief as much as possible.

Last edited by Dippy : 13th January 2010 at 18:19.
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Old 12th January 2010, 18:03   #3
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Lessening the appeal of your car:
  • Number etching : Etch the registration number of your car on the glass areas and a few other secret spots that only you know about. Etched registration numbers on windows are a deterrent to thieves (potential problem at "naka bandi"). Plus, this step will help you / the Police identify your car if & when it is recovered.
  • No valuables : Keep the laptops, shopping bags and cell phones away from prying eyes. These goodies invite a thief and only give him more incentive to steal your car. Never keep valuables in open sight (e.g. on your seat). Lock them away in the boot or carry them along with you. Also, if your stereo headunit has a removable panel, detach and take it with you.
  • Buy a market dud : Cars like the Fiat Palio, Ford Mondeo and Mitsubishi Cedia found few takers in the new car bazaar. Good news is, thanks to their dismal market performance, even fewer thieves are interested in these cars.
Some other important points:
  • Photo copies only : Do not leave your driving license and original registration papers in the car. These documents can be doctored, and it is possible that the thief will impersonate you when selling the car. Keep only photocopies of registration & insurance documents in the car and carry your driving license with you at all times.
  • Car Jacking : Though an infrequent occurrence today, car jacking is growing in popularity with urban thieves. When driving through isolated areas, or late at night, always keep the doors locked and your windows rolled up. Don't stop the car in suspicious areas either.
  • Offroaders : Good idea is to leave your 4x4 vehicle parked with the transfer case in N or L mode. A majority of thieves don't even know how to operate the transfer case.
  • For the really paranoid : Remove the main fuse and carry it along with you. No one expects thieves to come equipped with fuses. This is a worthy suggestion for those times that you are out travelling, and your car will remain unused in its parking spot for a longer period of time.
  • Protection from the "other" car : Applicable to those of you who have 2+ cars and a narrow parking area. Use the less desirable car as protection, park it at the end, and block access to the other cars. For instance, block the Hyundai i20 and Toyota Innova out with the ol' Premier 118 NE at the entrance.

Last edited by Dippy : 21st January 2010 at 17:42. Reason: amd = and
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Old 12th January 2010, 18:17   #4
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Some useful links:

Last edited by Dippy : 13th January 2010 at 13:42.
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Old 12th January 2010, 19:09   #5
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Wonderfully composed and written Dippy. Food for thought " You can deter a thief from looking at your car as a target by doing things that would slow them down in committing the crime" .
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Old 12th January 2010, 19:39   #6
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A well written point by point assessment with suggestions and precautions to be taken!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
Keys & Parking:
  • Keep your keys to yourself : Don't let your car keys circulate amongst the building watchmen, car wash guys or even parking lot attendants. Keys have often been duplicated from a leak in this circle. Also, don't leave your car keys in the ignition, even if you are doing a splash & dash to the nearby store.
Anti-theft equipment that works:
  • Additional locks : We highly recommend gear or steering-to-pedal locks from a reputable brand. Not only do these locks make for a visual deterrent to thieves, but the high quality ones are tough to break. There are several options of gear locks (fixed permanently in your car and locks gear in position) and steering-to-pedal locks (one end attached to your steering wheel and the other to your clutch or brake pedal) available in the market.
  • Hidden master switch : Especially popular with the Jeep & Gypsy folk. Such a switch basically breaks the power supply from your battery to the ignition, or shuts off the fuel pump altogether. It is installed at a location in your car that's known only to you. Again, the key is to deter the thief as much as possible.
Keeping the keys to oneself is very important.The car wash chaps are notorious and there have been instances where they duplicated keys taking impressions on soap.
Additional locks to immobilise the steering/gear lever.
A hidden master switch can cause dizziness and nausea to car thieves who may have been optimistic all the way till they discovered that there is somewhere, a hidden, KILL JOY master switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
Lessening the appeal of your car:
  • Number etching : Etch the registration number of your car on the glass areas and a few other secret spots that only you know about. Etched registration numbers on windows are a deterrent to thieves (potential problem at "naka bandi"). Plus, this step will help you / the Police identify your car if & when it is recovered.
  • Buy a market dud : Cars like the Fiat Palio, Ford Mondeo amd Mitsubishi Cedia found few takers in the new car bazaar. Good news is, thanks to their dismal market performance, even fewer thieves are interested in these cars.
Number etching is quite a good method for identification.A friend's Honda Dio that was stolen had a huge sticker (white radium paper)with the letters D H O O M pasted on both sides.This information was passed on to the police who traced the scooter after nearly a month, while on the move, nabbing the thief.Such customisation also helps at times.
Buying a market dud is a cardinal rule. Other than being used for terrorism no one else will touch duds.
For instance my 1955 Landmaster cannot be the object of envy for thieves.The car cannot be started by anyone else other than by me or my mechanic.And my mechanic is so nice a person that he will rather than taking away my car, if possible, even gift me another Landmaster!
Another cardinal rule: I have used this umpteen number of times with excellent results in theft prone areas with my older petrol jeeps, cars and everything else that runs on petrol.If your car has a distributor take out the distributor rotor and keep it with you when you park your car in unsafe places.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 12th January 2010 at 19:41.
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Old 12th January 2010, 19:47   #7
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Very valuable article Dippy. I wonder why wasn't this documented all this while on TBHP. The other perspective - there is so much that is basic and needs to be documented for the benefit of all.

I am a techno savage, so requesting others, it will be really nice if we can click pictures of gear lock, steering-pedal lock, etching, etc and share with all who live in smaller cities or are ignorant about these things.

One big deterrant is giving your car a unique identity. A visible identity. It could be a sticker, or some accessory, or a strip of colour, etc. Thieves try and pick up vehicles which are stock in appearance. Easier to drive away with just a change in number plate. So the differentiater should not be on the number plate.

Once again, thanks Dippy for the invaluable article for all car lovers.
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Old 12th January 2010, 19:47   #8
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Nice guide there dippy, I have a theft deterrent light installed in my car, Well, my car doesn't have an immobilizer,but the red LED light keeps blinking like the ones you see in cars with immobilizers. I was planning to paste a fake immobilizer sticker on the front windows

Looks something like this:

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Old 12th January 2010, 20:11   #9
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Beautiful thread! And very very well written. Cover most of the points. Could someone shed some light over what are the general trends of the theives once they pick up a car ?
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Old 12th January 2010, 20:30   #10
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Superb thread, Dippy!

A very useful thread and I can already see myself go for one or more of the deterrents soon. 5 *'s for usefulness
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Old 12th January 2010, 20:33   #11
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very good suggestion and really practical.

Most important, never handover the key to unknown
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Old 12th January 2010, 20:38   #12
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An additional pointer:
  • When out at a hotel or restaurant with valet parking facility, tip their driver 20 bucks. VIP parking space guaranteed . Last month, my Jeep was parked right next to the Intercontinental lobby. And on monday night, my Vtec was parked right outside the entrance to Caravan restaurant in Bandra.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dushmish View Post
there is so much that is basic and needs to be documented for the benefit of all.
So true! Sometimes, its the simplest things.

Quote:
I am a techno savage, so requesting others, it will be really nice if we can click pictures of gear lock, steering-pedal lock, etching, etc and share with all who live in smaller cities or are ignorant about these things.
We'll have it uploaded soon.

Quote:
One big deterrant is giving your car a unique identity.
How about a polka dotted paint job . But seriously, 'em weird and wacky modification jobs cars are probably the safest from theft.

Last edited by GTO : 13th January 2010 at 15:18.
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Old 12th January 2010, 20:53   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prince_pervez View Post
Beautiful thread! And very very well written. Cover most of the points. Could someone shed some light over what are the general trends of the theives once they pick up a car ?
The usual modus operandi of the car thieves is that they keep a watch over the car for sometime and monitor the activities of its owner. Once they get a chance they lift the car and fly away from the seen. In the time span of 5 to 10 minutes when the owner locks the car and leaves the spot they come into action. I myself has experienced such thing when my father's car a 5 month old Maruti 800 AC was lifted away in from of his eyes and within seconds they fled away. Later through the detectives(which we hired) we came to know that the car was hidden in the city and around 10 pm at night it crossed the city limit (border) and was hand driven to Nepal.

So many odd cars are transported to Nepal and then re-registered there.
Some cars meet their fate by being broken apart and sold in pieces.
That's the story of many of the cars stolen.
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Old 12th January 2010, 21:04   #14
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Great work Dippy. Very very elemental indeed. Yet the most obviously overlooked. There is a reason people flock tbhp for advice. This is one such example.
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Old 12th January 2010, 21:33   #15
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ok now this is good one. i need one sugestion from your side. i am buying a linea this month and it has a rolling code imobilizer so i will do most of these things, but would'nt a cover will add more security to it??
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