Hasty said those committing the break-ins have now resorted to breaking out glass and disregarding whether a vehicle is locked.
Statistics show, he said, it takes less than a minute for a thief to break your car window and snatch the iPod, laptop, or purse on the front seat. “Think about that the next time you dash in to pick up a cup of coffee or return a DVD.”
Each year, $1.26 billion in personal items and accessories are stolen from vehicles in about 1.85 million thefts. For every theft, experts estimate there are several break-ins and attempted break-ins.
10 common sense habits and tips for preventing car break-ins.
1. Keep your car visible
Park in well-lit areas near people or with an on-duty parking lot or garage attendant. Avoid having your car concealed by larger vehicles, fences, or foliage; thieves like to work in private.
2. Don’t make it easy
Keep windows and sunroofs closed and doors locked. Almost one-fourth of thefts from vehicles are from unlocked cars.
3. Activate your vehicle’s alarm
Don’t have one? Factory-installed and theft systems are best, but a professionally-installed alarm can discourage a car break-in thief who likes to work in silence.
4. Hide your valuables I
Many smash-and-grab thieves act on impulse, so keep your stuff out of sight – either with you or in a locked trunk. Don’t count on the glove box; thieves know to look there, and they’re easy to break into.
5. Hide your valuables II
If you have a wagon or SUV that leaves your cargo area open, get a retractable fitted cover to keep shopping bags or other belongings hidden.
6. Don’t hand a thief your keys
Take your keys with you. And if you think you have a great hiding place for a spare key, car break-in thieves know to look above the visor, in the center console, under the floor mat, in the trunk well, etc.
7. Stow your stuff before arrival
Experienced thieves often stake out parking lots to watch for people putting items in their trunk. Help prevent car break-ins by putting valuables like laptops, messenger bags, and electronic devices into your trunk before you get to the parking lot.
8. Stash the evidence, too
After you’ve put your stuff in the trunk, don’t forget such telltale evidence as power plugs, MP3 adapters, and navigation system windshield suction-cup mounts. Thieves know what they’re looking for, so hide the electronic accessories, too.
9. Trust your instincts
If you see suspicious activity, find another spot to park. If you’re concerned, tell the attendant or report your suspicions to police. You may be helping keep another person from being a victim of a car break-in or worse.
10. Take it one more step
Many vehicles are broken into with the intent of stealing the vehicle itself. Visible anti-theft devices, like steering wheel locks, steering column collars, or brake pedal locks may discourage the would-be thief from breaking in and trying.