Theft Deterrent

by William

A few days ago one of my neighbors had their Honda Civic stolen. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence in my neighborhood these days; not car theft but Honda Civic theft. In fact I think every person I know who has owned a Honda Civic (which is a lot) has had it stolen at some point. My parents have had their ‘98 Civic stolen and recovered on 4 separate occasions. At one point the Civic was the most stolen car in the US, and it might still be the leader in that category.

So if you have a car that is an easy target what can you do to keep it from getting lifted? A car alarm is an obvious solution and if you can afford one will definitely ad a notch of deterrence to any would-be thief. I personally find alarms annoying and have seen alarm remotes run out of batteries with the car alarm blaring at 2 in the morning–not a good way to make friends with your neighbors.

Devices like The Club, which locks to your steering wheel, are also a cheap way to add a bit of security to your vehicle. Sure they can be defeated but if given a choice between a vehicle with The Club and one without I would certainly try and steal the car without the anti-theft device on it. My folks also began using the club after the 4th theft of their Honda over a year ago and it hasn’t been stolen since.
A sketch of The Club.

One of my personal favorites is a simple “kill switch” or ignition cutoff switch. By flipping a switch or turning a key this device shuts off power to the ignition or completely cuts off power from the car’s battery. These switches are easily hidden under the dashboard or seats and some have keys that can be removed and taken out of the vehicle. I remember my family’s old 1991 Ford Escort wagon had a removable ignition chip mounted right under the steering column, and it came from the factory that way. If you were worried about theft you simply pulled the chip and popped it into your pocket. When it was time to drive you just plugged the chip back into its port; simple and effective theft protection. The main downside is a thief can’t tell that your car has this deterrent unless you advertise it with a sign (which isn’t a good idea). So there is still a possibility that someone will break into your car, they just won’t be able to drive it away.
Typical battery cutoff switch.
Some people subscribe to theft protection services, LoJack being the most notable. These services will track your vehicle in the event of a theft and can notify police to recover it quickly. They also recommend that you advertise their system on your car to keep potential criminals from targeting your car.

I personally choose to use a kill switch in my MGB along with a fuel cutoff switch. This is partially for theft protection and partially for safety and mechanical reasons. I also try not to keep anything valuable in my car as I think that this might be the biggest deterrent. No matter what type of theft protection you have it is important to remember that none of them are infallible. If someone wants your car bad enough, they can probably get it.

-Bill Mertz

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One Response to “Theft Deterrent”

  1. Tony Says:

    Bill, great article! One error it contains is the assertion that Lojack recommends that you display something on your vehicle to indicate that it is installed. Precisely the opposite is recommended. My truck (stolen Apr20, 07 was recovered Apr20, 07 because the thief did not know that he should look for the Lojack transmitter and disable it. He was caught at a Dallas TX chop-shop trying to sell my truck and he (along with 5 other thieves) were arrested. Five vehicles with no security were also recovered.

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