Tips & Guides

Anti-theft Systems & Car Trackers: A Comprehensive Guide

Getting your vehicle stolen is probably the worst nightmare of any motorist. Afterall, your car isn’t just a commute option for you, but rather an indispensable part of your life and one of your most valuable possessions.

Unfortunately, statistics reveal that automobile thefts are on the rise. The Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) reports a staggering 59% increase in motor vehicle thefts from 2019 to 2022.

Thankfully, you do have a host of anti-theft options which can be a real game-changer in preventing such situations. In this blog, we explain to you about the popular and the most effective anti-theft devices to protect your car, as well as car trackers to enable you to monitor your vehicle’s whereabouts regardless of its location.

1. Window Security Film

Window security film is a specific type of film that is created to offer extra protection to car windows from burglary. The film is constructed using several layers of polyester material that are adhered together with adhesive, and it works by keeping broken glass intact after an impact.

This type of film can greatly enhance the anti-theft measures of your car by reducing the chances of shattering and forced entry attempts.

Another benefit of window security film is that it can delay attackers, increasing their chances of getting caught, and making your vehicle a less appealing target for theft.

Moreover, window security film can also enhance your safety during a car accident by holding the window intact, even if it breaks into several smaller pieces. However, in emergency situations where breaking a window is necessary, the security film can still be broken, albeit with increased difficulty.

2. Steering Wheel Lock

Steering locks work by immobilizing the steering wheel, making it extremely difficult to steer the car and rendering it undrivable.

There are several different types of steering wheel locks available, but most of them use a rod-type design to create a barrier that prevents the steering wheel from moving freely.

While steering wheel locks aren’t foolproof, they are a cost-effective way to deter thieves and can be installed easily by anyone. Afterall, with the cheapest steering locks coming for around $20, they are great way to add an extra layer of security to your car.

Nonetheless, if you want additional protection, you can buy steering locks with features such as alarms or immobilizers that help to further discourage theft.

3. Wheel Clamps

Wheel Clamps are really effective if you want to protect your car from potential theft. These devices have been used by law enforcement for years to crack down on illegal parking, but they are also becoming more popular among car owners as an effective security measure.

Wheel clamps work by immobilizing your car with a physical impediment that prevents the wheel from rotating. This makes it impossible for a thief to drive, push, or tow your car. Additionally, wheel clamps are highly visible and act as a deterrent to opportunistic thieves. They are made of metal or plastic and can be adjusted to fit different wheel sizes, and they are easy to install without any special tools or training.

While you can find some cheap wheel clamps for around $30, it may be worth investing a bit more money for better security. This is because these wheel clamps do not protect the lug nuts holding your tire in place. As a result, a thief can steal your wheels or replace it with one that can spin freely.

On the other hand, larger wheel clamps, which cost over $100, have an inbuilt steel disc that covers the lug nuts. This makes it much more difficult for a thief to bypass the system. However, this also comes as a cost. Apart from the added price premium, these are also bulkier and less convenient to transport and install.

4. Car Alarms

Anti-theft systems in the form of car alarms are among the most commonly used. These alarms are designed to alert those around the vehicle in case of a break-in, and they typically utilize sensors to detect movement, vibrations, and forced entry attempts. Once triggered, they will flash the car’s lights as well as activate a siren. Some systems even send a notification to the owner’s smartphone or other device.

However, car alarms are also not a full-proof system as they don’t potentially deter thieves from taking away your car. This is why it’s best to use car alarms as an additional layer of security. These  alarms can draw attention to the vehicle and discourage a potential thief from proceeding.

Basic audible alarm systems can be purchased for as little as $200, and the installation process is relatively straightforward.

5. Hidden Kill Switch

A kill switch can be a highly effective method for deterring car theft or carjacking. These anti-theft devices are available in different types and can disconnect some components of the car’s combustion system, including the ignition, fuel pump, or battery, preventing the engine from starting until the switch is turned off manually.

To prevent thieves from easily discovering the kill switch, it is advisable to install it in a discreet yet accessible location, such as under the dashboard or seat. While the cost of a hidden kill switch is typically around $10, you may require the assistance of an auto technician for proper installation. However, once it is installed, it is a one-time investment, and you can have peace of mind knowing that your vehicle is more secure against theft.

6. Smart Key Systems

Smart key systems offer advanced anti-theft technology that improves security and convenience for car owners. Using a radio pulse generator, these keys communicate with antennas inside the vehicle and send a unique signal every time the car is locked, making it challenging for even tech-savvy thieves to crack the lock mechanism. These systems effectively counter traditional car theft methods such as lockpicking and hot wiring, significantly reducing the likelihood of theft.

If you have a new car, it likely has a smart key system installed. However, if your vehicle lacks this technology, it is advisable to seek the advice of an auto technician and consider installing an intelligent key for added security.

What are Car Tracking Devices?

If you’re interested in keeping tabs on your car’s whereabouts, you may want to consider a car tracking device. These nifty gadgets use either GPS or VHF technology to pinpoint your vehicle’s exact location.

GPS relies on a network of satellites and tracking devices to provide up-to-the-minute details on your car’s speed, direction, distance, and of course, location. With a GPS tracker installed, you can get notifications of the car’s mobility. Some models even provide detailed reports on your car’s movements and destinations via text.

Should you go with a GPS Car Tracker?

To enhance your vehicle’s security, it’s essential to adopt a multi-layered approach. A GPS tracking device is a valuable addition to your existing anti-theft measures. In case of theft, it will enable the police to recover your car quickly, irrespective of other security measures you have in place. Some advanced GPS trackers can even immobilize your car if someone attempts to steal it.

Moreover, GPS trackers not only provide real-time data about your car’s location in case of theft but also offer other advantages. Some advanced GPS trackers can improve driving behavior and safety by monitoring speed, acceleration, and braking. Installing a GPS tracker may also lead to lower insurance premiums since it reduces the risk of car theft.

Buyers Guide: What to look for when choosing a GPS Tracking Device for Cars

Installation and upkeep requirements

You should look for the ease of installation of the gadget as well as its maintenance requirements.

Compatibility with your vehicle’s model

Your GPS tracker must be compatible with your vehicle in order to work properly.

Power source and battery life

Apart from checking for maintenance needs, it is critical to verify the battery life and power source.

Required Features

Check if the system packs all the key features that you will need, such as, real-time tracking and monitoring, Geofencing, Alerts and notifications, Driver behavior monitoring, etc.

Subscription fees and pricing plans

You should look at the subscription costs and purchasing plans in addition to the main features of the GPS gadget.

What are the types of GPS Car Trackers?

1. Plug-In Vehicle GPS Trackers (OBD GPS Tracker)

GPS trackers that are connected to a car’s port are known as plug-in GPS trackers, or OBD GPS trackers. In most of the cars, the OBD connection port is found below the steering wheel or slightly above the driver’s knees.

One of the benefits of a plug-in GPS tracker is that it can receive both power and data through the port, making installation simple and straightforward. Since it;s a plug-and-play system, you can remove the tracker and use it on another vehicle.

2. Hardwired GPS Trackers

A hardwired GPS tracker is a suitable option for older vehicles that lack an OBD port as it connects directly to the car. These trackers are usually installed under the dashboard since they cannot be connected to the OBD port.

If you’re looking for a GPS tracker that can be hidden from view, a hardwired device is a good choice, as it can be concealed without affecting its functionality. When installed correctly, a hardwired GPS tracker offers all of the same benefits as a plug-in tracker.

3. Portable Battery-Powered GPS Trackers

A battery-operated GPS tracker is not dependent on a vehicle’s power supply. Instead, these trackers are powered by long-lasting batteries and are able to transmit their location data to monitoring systems in the same way as other tracking devices.

This means that a battery-operated GPS tracker can be used in a variety of applications and can be placed anywhere without having to worry about access to a power source.


Does Car Insurance Cover Vehicle Theft?

If your car is stolen, it’s important to know that theft is only covered under a comprehensive car insurance policy. Without this type of coverage, your insurance company will not cover the cost of replacing your stolen vehicle.

What Happens If I Misplace the Key to My Anti-Theft Device in My Car?

If you misplace the key to your anti-theft device in your car, you may need to contact a locksmith for assistance. Some anti-theft devices come with extra keys that can be used to unlock them, but not all do. If you cannot locate an extra key, you may need to contact the manufacturer. After unlocking the device, you may then be required to purchase a new one.

Do Car insurance companies offer discounts on employing anti-theft devices?

Installing an approved anti-theft device in your car and having comprehensive coverage may make you eligible for discounts on your insurance policy.To learn more about how to obtain an anti-theft discount, simply ask your insurance company representative for information. Keep in mind that the amount of the discount may differ depending on the insurance company, so it’s a good idea to compare the insurance costs and discounts from various providers to find the most affordable policy for your needs.

What cars have been stolen the most?

The most commonly stolen cars in the U.S. include full-size trucks from Dodge, Ford, GMC, and Chevrolet. In 2020, the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Camry topped the list of the 10 most stolen vehicles in the country.