The 7 Best Wheel Locks
Gone In Sixty Seconds
Car accessory theft encompasses everything from wheels and electronics to license plates and more.
It's early Monday morning and, as usual, you are running late. You rush out the door only to find that your car has been broken into and the radio is gone. Or worse, your vehicle is sitting on cinder blocks because some nefarious individual has stolen the wheels. Or, worst of all, your car is just gone. While this may sound like the scene from a popular Hollywood movie, it's the reality for hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.
Despite FBI statistics showing a 30-percent decrease in vehicle and vehicle-related thefts between 2007 and 2016, it is still far too common of a crime to become complacent about the safety of your vehicle, its accessories, and its contents. In 2016, the FBI estimates there were over 700,000 motor vehicle thefts across the country, costing owners an average of $7,680 per incident. Sometimes thieves don't bother wasting the time to steal the whole vehicle and instead just take some valuable and more easily accessible accessories. In 2016, the FBI estimates 300,000 cases of car accessory theft, costing owners an average of $541 per incident. Car accessory theft encompasses everything from wheels and electronics to license plates and more.
While auto theft may be covered by your insurance, as long as you have ticked the optional comprehensive coverage box, it will still cause your premium to rise if you ever make a claim. Not to mention the stress and hassle you'll encounter dealing with the whole process. It is strange to find then, that many people still don't take the necessary steps to protect their vehicle, its accessories, and its contents. In fact, a poll has found that nearly 50 percent of people don't take the time to find parking in a well-lit area. Roughly 40 percent don't bother hiding their valuables, often leaving bags and other items in plain site or not removing the face of their car stereo, and 30 percent of people admit to having left their car running while getting cash from an ATM or picking up one or two items in a convenience store.
Top Things Stolen From Cars
Since vehicle theft is technically on the decline, we thought it prudent to discuss a scenario you are more likely to encounter — car contents or accessory theft. The most common items stolen from a vehicle are electronics. This includes both electronics installed in your car and those you leave inside of them, like a smartphone or laptop. Leaving your car's navigation system suction-cupped to your windshield where everybody can see it is just screaming out for someone to steal it, as is leaving your laptop sitting on your passenger side seat. The same is true for leaving a purse, briefcase, or other bag sitting in plain sight. Which is probably why bags are the second most common item stolen from vehicles. Having a fancy alarm system generally won't protect your electronics or bags either, since it only takes a matter of seconds for a thief to perform a smash and grab.
Since vehicle theft is technically on the decline, we thought it prudent to discuss a scenario you are more likely to encounter — car contents or accessory theft.
The next most common item stolen from cars are license plates. While this may sound strange to some of us, it is actually a very prevalent issue. There are a number of reasons thieves steal number plates, all of which can cause a problem for you if you don't report the theft. These include disguising stolen cars as they transport them from one location to another, pump and run gasoline thefts, robbery getaways. Because it is so common for people to leave registrations, mail, and other identity-related papers in cars, criminals often look to steal important documents from vehicles as well.
Alloy wheels are another valuable accessory that is often stolen from vehicles. You might have thought stealing wheels is unfeasible and time consuming, but just ask this unlucky Maryland couple who had their wheels stolen twice in a single week. Insurance companies reported roughly 80 sets of alloy wheels stolen every month in 2015.
Four Ways To Protect Your Wheels
Preventing yourself from becoming a victim of some of the most common vehicle accessory and content thefts is as simple as not leaving them in your car, or at least hiding them in the trunk or under a seat. This is not so when it comes to alloy wheel theft. You can't just hide your wheels or take them inside the house with you every night, so you must take a few extra steps to protect these valuable and necessary car accessories.
Parking very close to the curb eliminates this space, and may just be the thing that makes a thief move onto another target.
First and foremost, you should buy a sturdy set of wheel locks. That's right. Just like they make the Club to lock your steering wheel, companies also sell locks designed specifically for your wheels. Wheel locks are similar to lug nuts, but with one vital difference: they require a special key to be removed. Traditional lug nuts are all the same, meaning anybody with a tire jack and nefarious intent has the means to remove them. Wheel locks are the most important step you can take to ensure your wheels stay safely on your vehicle where they belong. They are nearly impossible to remove without the special key included in the set.
When possible, you should also park in high-traffic, well-lit areas. There is less chance of anything being stolen from your vehicle if it is always in sight of passersby. Adding a car alarm is another smart step. Crafty thieves know how to steal wheels without setting off traditional alarms though, so make sure to buy one with dedicated sensors for the wheels.
Finally, there is one easy and free, yet often overlooked method of helping to protect your wheels. Simply parking as close to the curb as possible is a surprisingly effective deterrent. Jacking up a car and removing the wheels requires space. Parking very close to the curb eliminates this space, and may just be the thing that makes a thief move onto another target. While each method mentioned here is effective, combining all four is the best way to protect your alloy wheels.