We're not saying we blame the government but in the wide world of increasing economic instability, there's increasing motivation for theft. There are around 740,000 car break-ins per year reported to the police, and almost as frequently, 720,000 car thefts... that's 3 car crimes per minute in the U.S. alone! If you live in the riskier cities Bakersfield or Modesto CA, Albuquerque NM, Odessa TX, Honolulu HI, or Denver CO you have about a 1 in 4 odds of a break-in or theft during your average residence.

But fear not! Science, statistics, reviews, and tests have led us to solutions that are free or cheap to protect your pride and joy. Many of these even work on your old '69 Mustang, not just your new BMW M4. Sadly, some super easy-to-steal cars like 90's Civics and Accords are just always going to be more prone, but you are not without hope! Here are 10 products and strategies to keep even your $100,000 sports car unstealable on the street.

10 Park In The Light

car parked in light at night

In an interview with 86 burglars, KTVB found some very insightful statistics and methods that most property owners can apply to avoid break-ins, the most common theme being a risk of exposure and fear of lighting. As you might expect, almost all burglaries happen on the cover of night. One of the greatest deterrents, almost stupidly simple, is found to be a motion-sensor light.

garage well lit design home driveway

It's not hard to imagine stealing a car in the shadows, parked out of the line of sight from a house or window, but doing so under a blaring house light or streetlamp is a lot less stomachable. A $24 solar-powered motion sensor LED light on Amazon can be mounted to a nearby wall or post, and freak out most potential criminals.

Related: Audi RS6 Has 700 HP And The Craziest Custom LED Steering Wheel

9 Cover/Disguise Valuables

car break in

Almost all break-ins happen when a criminal sees something valuable. It's almost impossible for a thief to want to risk breaking in if they can't quickly and easily see things like a laptop or easy-to-remove stereo. Parking in the same area such as a workplace or school lets criminals canvas your car easier and puts you at greater risk, especially when there are more dark hours in a day.


If you must leave things in your car, put them in the trunk or even in the spare tire well. If nothing else, try throwing a cover over it. Things like bags, purses, and briefcases are red flags. It helps somewhat to tint your windows, but the windshield will still show off anything left behind. This is your chance to get creative!

8 Sensitive or Unusual Alarms

car alarm btton

A car alarm can be programmed with some difficulty, but will normally go off if broken into under normal circumstances. As a last line of defense, an unusual or scary alarm will potentially ward off a thief in the process or alert sympathetic onlookers. If possible, increasing your car's sensitivity will help such as if you try to open the doors while it's locked but in older cars, this might not be an option.

car alarm

Changing out your horn for an aftermarket one is not hard, we recently did it to a RAV4 that now blares a siren-sounding horn at over 100 decibels. A train horn, similarly, is paralyzing. Our pals at Donut Media even installed a pre-recorded alarm that loudly announced someone was stealing their car, a gadget that cost just $14 on Amazon, and a sound device. Not only would this be safer for your car, but it's hilarious to think of what warnings you can produce to make a thief run. Something like a bomb countdown or a fake police call might do it.

Related: Watch This Lamborghini Sian Supercar Set Off Parked Car Alarms Revving Down A Street

7 The Mysterious Box

car key box

Dealerships use these boxes where one key gets you into every box where the car's individual key is waiting. A solar or battery-powered blinking light indicates the possibility of a GPS, and removing one from the outside is all but impossible without busting the window. Having one on your normal cars driver side window is a scary unknown factor that very few crackheads would dare tempt fate with.

car key box 2

It can be as simple as a lockbox that looks official, normally a sign of a rental car with GPS or an otherwise tracked and theft-proofed car. Not actually keeping your keys in it will add to the layers of protection and confusion if somehow they brave the unknown variable, crack open the box, and still want to get inside.

Related: Dodge Charger And Challenger Models Getting Security Feature To Combat Muscle Car Thefts

6 Steering Wheel Lock

steering wheel lock

These are not necessarily the most secure, as most can be drilled through in a matter of minutes, but just owning one means that you slimmed down your potential burglars. For one, they must know the brand of the steering wheel lock... is it reinforced or just cheap? Secondly, they must know they have time to drill out the lock, 2 to 6 minutes unobserved, normally only something they can tell by casing your car for a few days in a row.

stoplock pro

Lastly, they must have the proper tools, a drill with a strong bit that won't die, or some serious lock picking skills. By now they ought to have moved on to the neighbors Maserati. The mere appearance of a wheel lock means you mean business and is enough to make the typical quick-canvasser in need of drug money just move along. The easily-stowable device comes in at a mere $29 on Amazon (first picture) which is what we would recommend, even if just to keep on hand for visiting more questionable areas. For the most secure wheel lock check out the $73 Stoplock "Pro Elite" (second picture) which has a certain appealing yet warning aesthetic to it.

5 Nighttime Blinking Lights

blinking light theft deterent brz

When your car has a red or blue blinking light in it at night it's usually from a running dashcam or other added security device. Like the black box trick, thieves just can't know what it's for and would much rather move along. What they don't know is that it can be as simple as a set of $12 blue and red blinking LEDs that are solar-powered from Amazon.

blinking blue and red lights secrity solar battery car theft safety best deterent proven

The blue and red association with police colors is almost always enough, and as long as you put one in front and one in back, you won't be accused of impersonating a police officer. For always-on dash cams, you need either a car that keeps the battery running or a battery-powered dashcam like the motion-sensing Venture N2 for $170, one of the most capable budget dash cams with forward and backward cameras.

4 Cheaper Car Appearance

Front 3/4 view of the 240 Wagon

This isn't something you just do, but in high theft areas, you might want to consider owning a sleeper car. Red, yellow, and green cars (typically sports cars) are most targeted for theft, while silver and white have a lower percentage. A trick we learned while researching this was to remove your front bumper! This is a temporary extreme measure for nice cars in sketchy areas, but effective.

masserati no bumper

This is not too difficult and won't put you at risk, safety-wise (typically the structural bumper is under the body panels). It will make your car's brand hard to distinguish and make an otherwise premium ride seem trashy and not worthwhile. It may also indicate to hoodlums that it's getting work done and might not be drivable. De-badging the back will ensure that any Maserati blends in with Buicks until you don't need to deter thieves anymore. Also, non this list, but a set of $21 wheel locking bolts and $13 secure license plate bolts will prevent additional calamity in extreme circumstances.

Related: 10 Classic Sleeper Cars That Can Still Annihilate Sports Cars

3 Warning Sticker

gps warning

A lot of vehicles come with or have warming stickers and while this is closer to a 50-50 chance of preventing break-ins, a unique sticker is a cheap way to give pause to determined ne'er-do-wells. The threat of a GPS system is one of the most sure-fire ways to scare a thief... can they find the GPS? Will it be traced right to them? They cannot know. A set of four, bold, opaque stickers from Amazon is one of your best bets for just $2.79, the best cost-to-prevention value on this list.

anti theft warning

Keep in mind you can be more or less discrete for day-to-day appearance, but there might be little to show if you aren't obvious with your theft-deterrent signs. We once printed a simple made-up security company sticker at home and stuck it on a Subaru door with perfect results for several years, the idea being that any tips and tricks to break into name-brand security systems couldn't be used against a fake brand. Some comical stickers have been used such as the "millennial anti-theft device" sticker featuring a stick shift, or simply "car doesn't work," best for use on BMW's.

Related: 15 Most Hilarious Bumper Stickers People Put On Their Cars

2 Kill Switch

diy kill switch best hidding spot easy most convenient kill switch for car saftey defeat device

The kill switch is an unbeatable device that even people who have driven in your car with you might not be able to detect or replicate. You can't hotwire a car that has one, so it's great for older vehicles. It's quite simply a typical button or a switch tapped into your ignition wires (look up the proper way to do it on your own vehicle) that costs $5 or less at your local hardware store. The smaller and more discrete, the better.

kill switch for cars metal defeat button black best hidden

But first, you need to consider where you want to hide it and if you want an on/off button or a momentary button. Momentary means you have to hold the switch down to start the car or it just won't start. On/off means you need to remember to turn it off every time, but you can get a cheaper switch and potentially hide it in more devious (or impractical) locations. Our recommendation is this all-black, metal momentary button for $6.99 on Amazon. The switch or button is best hidden out of sight of passengers or onlookers, and ideally somewhere not difficult or obvious to get to such as where your left hand can rest while you start the car.


gps tracker for car best waterproof magnetic no subscription option phone bluetooth rechargable battery lithium ion

A GPS in modern times can be as small as a quarter and run for months on one battery. In the case of a car, they don't need to be accurate and it can be mounted anywhere a thief won't check and they do check! For that reason, the usual ones that plug into the OBD2 port might not be worth it in the case of anti-theft. You also want to avoid wheel wells and around bumpers. Inside under plastic body panels or a fold of carpet is good, but weak signal issues might happen if it's under too much metal such as under the dash.

tile tracker

We recommend Spy Tec which costs just $30 and has a 2-week long rechargeable battery as well as a waterproof magnetic case. Yes, it requires a subscription to track but in the case of anti-theft, you can just keep the GPS in the car and activate the subscription if stolen, contact with the device isn't needed! It allows you to view locations from your phone and can alert you if the device enters or leaves certain areas. Alternatively, you can keep the little keychain trackers known as Tiles in your backpack or valuables which don't have GPS but will alert you if it comes close to certain Bluetooth devices, giving you some hope in decently populated areas. A set of four is $69.99 and doesn't require any subscription at all, though this won't be the best option for cars.

10 Anti-Theft Products To Help Keep Your Car Safe
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