Burglary Prevention: Avoiding Auto Theft Smash-and-Grab

by : Melanie Broemsen

When you're away from your car - in a restaurant or dashing in to return a DVD - the only thing that comes between an opportunistic thief and the valuables in your car is a sheet of safety glass.

Many times car burglars are after your stereo, CD collection or other loose belongings you've left in your car - like a cell phone, iPod or even your wallet, purse, laptop or garage door opener that you've left in plain sight.

Unfortunately, car burglaries can be expensive, from the cost of repairs to replacing your belongings. And they can leave you feeling victimized, too. You can minimize the likelihood you'll fall prey to a costly car burglary by following these simple burglary prevention tips from Nationwide.

Car Burglary Prevention Tips

1) Hide your valuables. Smash-and-grab car burglars aren't exactly criminal masterminds. Many simply act on impulse. So keep your valuable belongings with you, or out of sight. Car floors, dashboards and seats are not good places to leave items like:

• Purses and wallets
• Laptop bags, briefcases and backpacks
• Shopping bags
• Cell phones and MP3 players
• Loose change and CDs
• Keys

If you can't take items with you, hide them out of sight in your trunk.

2) Keep your car visible. The last thing thieves want is a crowd of onlookers to witness their crime. You can help prevent a burglary by parking your car in crowded areas, such as:

• Busy parking lots and designated spaces, near pedestrian and vehicle traffic
• Well-lit spaces, especially those near a lamppost if you're out after dusk
• Parking lots with an attendant

3) Make burglaries difficult. Smash-and-grab car burglars don't want the complexity of a caper movie when stealing your iPod or cash. Every hurdle you can provide makes it more likely they'll move on. Following this simple advice will give you an added layer of protection against car burglaries.

• Lock your doors and roll up your windows when you park
• Activate your security system
• Consider window tinting (if permitted by local laws)
• Avoid using the console or glove box as mobile lockboxes

4) Don't hand a car burglar your keys. Leaving your key on the dash or in the ignition is an invitation to a car burglar. And keep in mind that if you have a great hiding place for a spare key (in your wheel well or above your sun visor), a thief has thought of it, too.

5) Stow your belongings before you get there. Experienced thieves often stake out parking lots. Move valuable items, like shopping bags and laptops, to your trunk before you get to the parking lot.

6) Trust your instincts. If you see suspicious activity, find somewhere else to park. Don't confront anyone: If you're concerned, report your suspicions to an attendant or the police. By reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities, you can help prevent others from becoming a victim of a car burglary or another crime.