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6 ways to make sure your car gets stolen

Last updated Aug. 1, 2011

A car is stolen somewhere in the United States every 40 seconds, according to the FBI, but yours doesn't have to be among the hundreds of thousands that go missing each year.

car theftMost vehicles are taken because the owners are careless or much too trusting. If you want to avoid losing your set of wheels, start "thinking like a bad guy," advises crime-prevention consultant Art Adkins.

Thinking like a thief means looking for crimes of opportunity, explains Adkins, a police lieutenant in Gainesville, Fla. Before you walk away from your parked car, ask yourself:

  • Is your car an attractive theft target where it’s parked?
  • How easy have you made it for someone to break in?
  • Have you bothered to use an anti-theft device?

Law enforcement agencies and car insurance companies try to educate consumers about the best ways to keep their vehicles safe.

"The crime triangle works on three things," says Adkins. "One point is the suspect, one is the victim and one is opportunity. Opportunity is what we have to eliminate."

No one method is foolproof, but the more layers of security you create, the greater the chance that a car thief simply will move on to an easier target, says Michelle Staton, executive director of the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority. If you prefer to live dangerously, here are six things guaranteed to put your car at high risk of being stolen.

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