How to Prevent Car Break-Ins [9 Actionable Tips]

How to Prevent Car Break-Ins [9 Actionable Tips]There is nothing that feels worse than walking out in the morning to find that your car has been broken into. Whether a window has been broken or you forgot to lock it, having your possessions rifled through feels invasive and creepy. So how do you prevent car break-ins?
We've put together some tips on the best way to prevent a car break-in here:
  • Do not leave valuables in plain sight
  • Lock your car doors
  • Roll up your windows
  • Park your car in a visible area if you must park it on the street
  • Activate your alarm system
  • Use an aftermarket theft deterrent
  • Don't leave your keys in your car
  • Don't transfer valuables to your trunk where thieves might see the transfer
  • Consider window tinting to prevent 

Please read on as we go into more detail on each of these list items.

Top Ways To Prevent Car Break-Ins

Doors Locked, Windows Rolled Up, Valuables Out Of Sight

According to Nationwide Insurance, one of the best ways to prevent a car break-in is to lock your car doors and put your valuables out of sight. Thieves are opportunistic in their scouting for a target and will often check door handles or look inside of windows. There are many obvious things that you don't want to leave in view of a thief like a purse or a computer bag, but some other items include:

  • loose change - it may seem like thieves wouldn't go after quarters and pennies, but when someone is desperate, they're desperate
  • CD's if you use them - these can still be sold for a little cash
  • charging cords - because where there's a charging card, there may be a phone or other device

If You Must Park On The Street

If you must park on the street, make sure you're in a well-lit spot with other cars and preferably people around. Thieves often work alone, and the last thing they want is to be observed for a smash and grab through a car window.

Activate Your Alarm System

If you have an alarm system in your car, be sure it's turned on. If a thief touches your car handle and an alarm goes off, they're going to run. Also, many alarm systems will have a light on the dash indicating its presence, which will send a thief running to an easier target.

Consider An After Market Theft Deterrent

Something as simple as a baby monitor can keep a would-be thief at bay. Nobody wants to break into a car when a camera is visible. A baby monitor is simple to set up, can work wirelessly, and often has night vision and audio. Keep the volume turned up on your end, that way if your window gets broken, you'll hear it.

Baby Sense monitor on amazon

This Baby Sense monitor is relatively inexpensive, has a long-range reach of 900 feet, features infrared night vision, and two-way audio. That's right. Some jerk breaks into your car, you can yell at them that the cops are on the way. Click here to see this on Amazon.

To keep a thief from making off with your car, consider using a steering wheel lock.

steering wheel lock on amazon

This all-around model has a patented self-locking feature and has a universal fit for all vehicles. It's under fifty dollars and an excellent investment for auto theft deterrence. It slips easily onto your steering wheel, preventing it from turning. Click here to see this on Amazon.

Don't Leave Your Keys In Your Car

You're not going to want to leave your keys in the ignition, but it's also not a great idea to keep a spare hidden inside the car. If thieves realize you have a hidden key, that's a high incentive for a break-in.

Don't Transfer Valuables To Your Trunk Where Someone Might Be Watching

We mentioned before that thieves are opportunists. If you're in a parking lot and you decide to throw your laptop in your trunk, so it's not in view, it's still accessible if a thief breaks into your car. If you know you need to carry valuables with you, put them into the trunk before you get to your next destination. That way, prying eyes will be none the wiser.

Consider Tinting Your Windows

Though tinting laws vary from state to state, the one advantage to tinted windows is a thief can't see inside your car easily. With tinted windows, they may not even approach the vehicle as someone or a dog may be inside. Vehicle break-in thieves are rarely looking for a confrontation. They are looking for easy targets.

What Time Do Most Car Break-ins Happen?

Automobile break-ins happen at all times of the day: morning, afternoon, and night time. As we've mentioned earlier, vehicle break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Thieves will cruise a parking lot randomly trying door handles and looking inside for valuables. If no one is around, and they fear no car alarm, they'll quickly break a window, grab the object they've spotted, and make a run from it. Just because it's a sunny, beautiful day doesn't mean your purse is safe on the passenger floorboard.

Do Car Alarms Go Off When Windows Break?

Not always. The most basic car alarms use a voltage sensor, so the alarm is only triggered when the voltage drops. This happens when the trunk or a door is opened, and the light draws from the car's battery. If your vehicle is equipped with a pressure or window sensor, these will pick up the broken window. The pressure sensor will note a drop in interior air pressure when a window is forcibly broken. The window sensor uses a microphone and will detect the sound of breaking glass.

window sensor on amazon

This vibration alarm has a stick-on sensor to place on the interior of your car window. It also comes with a remote control that allows you to set off an alarm from a distance (if you saw a thief from inside your home).

Click here to see this on Amazon.

motion detector sensor on amazon

This handy gadget is a motion detector sensor that plugs into your cigarette lighter. It will detect any motion inside of your car and sound an alarm that lasts for two full minutes.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

How Do I Protect My Car Windows From Break-ins?

The primary way to keep your car window protected from break-ins is to follow the rules above. Don't leave anything on your seat or your floorboards. If a car looks clean from the outside, there's no incentive to get into it. If your windows are tinted, thieves may bypass your particular vehicle.

They do make a shatter-resistant window film that holds a broken window together should a thief try to make a quick getaway. This high-quality film with strong adhesive won't prevent breakage, but it will prevent a thief from easily getting in.

shatter-resistant window film on amazon

Click here to see this on Amazon.

Some vehicles are retrofitted with safety glass, which is much harder to break, and other car owners even go so far as to use a metal mesh to keep would-be thieves out of their cars.

Can A Thief Break A Tesla Window?

Model 3 Teslas have a weak spot that makes it possible for the window to be broken. Even with all of the advanced technology, this model doesn't have a window sensor in its car alarm. Therefore when the small back window is broken, no alarm sounds. The Model S and X Teslas have a more advanced theft prevention system that will sound an alarm for a broken window.

How Do You Prevent Smash And Grabs?

When thieves are using a smash and grab philosophy, the main thing they're thinking about is speed. How fast can they break a window, grab what they want, and get out of there? They often don't care about car alarms because they're going to be gone before anyone notices.

The absolute main thing a car owner can do to prevent this type of theft is to keep valuables out of eyesight. If there's nothing to grab, then there's no reason to smash. Even something as simple as a plastic shopping bag can make you a victim. The thief is willing to take the gamble that it holds something of value. These crimes are on the rise, and it's more important than ever to leave the interior of your car spotlessly clean with nothing to steal.

Parting Words On Preventing Vehicle Break-Ins

The most important take-away from this post is to never leave items in your car, park in a visible area, and lock your doors. There are other actions you can take if you live in higher density, higher crime areas, and items you can purchase to help deter thieves. You can tint your windows as an additional barrier. Be smart. Be safe.

If you found this post helpful, please check out these other posts here on below:

How Can I Track My Stolen Car? [Inc. 5 Actionable Ways]

Can a Travel Trailer Be Stolen? (And How to Prevent It)

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