Anti-theft devices exist in many forms to combat the variety of car thieves out there. From high-tech GPS-based tracking systems to low-tech steering-wheel locking mechanisms, anti-theft devices are car owner’s last line of defence in unfamiliar parkades and dimly-lit streets.
Here are some good news and bad news. Bad news: according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Canadians spend approximately $1 billion each year due to stolen automobiles. Good news: from 2011 to 2012, 4,500 fewer vehicles were stolen, which adds up to a vehicle theft decrease of 57% in the past decade.
What does this all mean for car owners? It seems that although there is a clear decline in car theft, there is still a lucrative market out there that thrives on stolen car parts, which is why anti-theft devices are still needed. But, are they worth the price and inconvenience?
Here are some pros and cons to help you decide whether your vehicle requires any anti-theft devices:
Pro: Technology Has Improved
Car alarms used to have this spastic siren that both alerts and annoys the user. A gentle bump can be misconstrued as a code-red breach and everyone in the neighbourhood would know about it. That is no longer the case. The latest car alarm innovations include multistage electronics that work with shock sensors to gage whether the nudge was accidental or intentional.
In addition, new inaudible alert applications can be downloaded to car owners’ smartphones. If someone is breaking into your vehicle or a shopping cart crashed into it at the store, you’ll know right away via Push Notification.
Con: Thieves Have Improved As Well
Hoodlums are afraid of car alarms, professional thieves aren’t. Many anti-theft devices are built to stump the amateur, but present little resistance against the experienced.
Alarms alert and immobilizers slow down the thief, but other than that, they really don’t do much. It goes to show that devices are just the most basic form of prevention.
Pro: It Only Needs To Work Once
Although anti-theft devices can cost thousands of dollars, they only need to work once to pay off. If you only have liability coverage with your insurance company, the most you can get is the vehicle’s reimbursed market value if it is not found or cost of repairs if the vehicle is found, but in poor condition and under a certain amount of days.
In a quick comparison, you’ll see that a security device is a cheaper solution than a long-term comprehensive auto insurance plan.
Con: Nothing Beats Common Sense
Often you don’t need security at all, because common sense might do just fine. Some car owners can’t even tell you what anti-theft features are out on the market, because they don’t need to. Instead, they use their best judgement when they park their car.
Car theft is most common in urban areas, and older vehicles are much easier to be broken into and disassembled for parts. By being aware of your surroundings and concealing valuable items within, you are already doing a part in preventing theft.
Pro: Security Features May Lower Your Premium
That said, having additional anti-theft features may qualify your vehicle for a discount when purchasing insurance. Statistically speaking, cars with security features are less likely to be broken into and stolen, so many insurance companies will offer a lower premium for that very reason.
Most Common Anti-Theft Devices
Additional devices for your vehicle may be a costly endeavor, but in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons, and I believe that it is better to have one than not. What is that old childhood adage? Better safe than sorry.
Here are a few common security features you should consider:
Steering-wheel lock ($25 – $100): Commonly known as clubs, steering-wheel locks are very common and do a decent job immobilizing the vehicle, while also limiting its manoeuvrability. However, it is not foolproof, and professional car thieves will not be foiled by it.
Alarm system ($40 – $1,400): Always useful in getting attention, but not always useful in getting help. If a car alarm doesn’t scare away the thieves immediately, there is little struggle presented after.
Kill switch ($10 – $125): Although some cars don’t allow for a kill switch, it is still an effective system for shutting down the engine, which leaves thieves stranded in a stolen vehicle. In order for the kill switch to work, it must be concealed or the thief might disable it.
GPS-based vehicle tracking system ($500-$1000): Tracking systems don’t exactly stop criminals from stealing your vehicle, but they do offer a 90-per-cent return rate by working with your local law enforcers.