Most articles on this topic will start with a statement like “having your car stolen can ruin your day.” This kind of comment makes me laugh because losing your vehicle represents a lot more than just a bad day, especially in Indianapolis.
Not only do you have the immediate problem of getting yourself back home, but you also have the issue of trying to figure out who stole your vehicle and where they might have taken it. If you are unable to recover your car, you are also looking at a significant financial loss. Just imagine the frustration of spending months or even years to pay off your vehicle, just so some lowlife piece of scum can come along and steal it! So, what is the best aftermarket anti-theft device?
The best vehicle anti-theft device is the one that presents the greatest difficulty for a potential thief. The golden rule when evaluating an anti-theft device is: “How would I get around this?” If you can defeat the security mechenism, a thief can do so as well.
With this in mind, read onward and take a look at some of the creative measures that can be employed to keep your car from ending up in a chop shop.
Most Common Options
1. A Fuel Cut-Off Valve
A fuel cut-off valve is a very cheap and simple device, making it an excellent solution for those without much money. If you have a little bit of knowledge about vehicles and how they work, you should be able to do this modification yourself for a cost of $10-$15.
First, go to the auto parts store and tell them you want an in-line fuel cut-off valve. If you have trouble here, you can easily use one that is intended for a lawnmower.
Now, all you need to do is find your fuel line. Specifically, locate the line that goes from the gas tank to the engine. Cut this line and install the cut-off valve in the middle. When you close the valve, the vehicle will not start. Most thieves will probably move on.
- Very cheap
- Easy to install
- Reliably ensures that a thief cannot start your car
- Easy to reverse if detected
- Has to be switched on and off frequently
- The switch will probably have to be installed in an inconvenient location
2. Battery Cutoff Devices
Like our previous device, these kinds of tools are meant to ensure that no one can start your car except for you. Like our prior device, this method also relies on deception.
There are a whole host of products that can be used to completely cut all power from the battery when your car is not in use. By implementing this method, it means that no juice to the starter and no ignition.
This kind of device is sometimes called a kill switch. Should you opt for one of these, make sure that the switch is well-hidden.
- Very reliable
- Fairly cheap
- Many products to choose from
- Difficult to install (not always the case)
- Relatively easy to detect
3. Steering Wheel Lock
A steering wheel lock is probably one of the first things you think of when someone mentions a vehicle anti-theft device. The classic example is “The Club,” a forked bar that fits over your steering wheel and locks it in place. Many variations on this basic design have been sold over the years. However, they all have a fatal flaw. The flaw is the fact that a steering wheel can be easily cut. After cutting the steering wheel, the device can be slid right off. It may only take as little as 15 seconds for a car thief to cut a steering wheel. Avoid these “club” devices. If you want a steering wheel lock, go for one like the “disklok,” which is a hardened steel disk that covers the entire steering wheel.
- Not too expensive
- Readily available
- Easy to defeat
- Very well-known among thieves
- Essentially just a stick
4. Baby Monitor
A simple baby monitor is something that is not intended to work as a security device, but which can easily be used for that purpose. The reason is because it is not nessicarily a monitoring device.
A baby monitor will have a camera, a microphone, and maybe even night vision. Most of the time, these devices are controlled easily using a phone app.
They can be used to keep an eye on your car so that you can call the police if something happens. Best of all, you will have video footage of the thief.
- Easy to use
- Gives full surveillance in a small device
- Lots of choices
- Won’t prevent a thief from stealing your car
- Can be defeated with a mask
- A thief might spot the camera
5. Brake Pedal Lock
There are a few devices on the market which are used to lock the brake pedal in place. By locking the brake pedal in place, therefor a thief who steals your car will be unable to stop.
The last thing a car thief wants is to get into a wreck while driving a stolen vehicle. Brake pedal locks are usually made of thick tempered steel, making it quite difficult to remove them. One example of this kind of device is called “Pedal Jack” and seems to be an effective way to deter theft.
- Very difficult for a thief to remove
- Easy to use
- Requires no wiring or new parts
- A thief could get around this device by using the emergency brake
- Could be a serious problem if you lose the key
6. Tire Lock AKA “The Boot”
Most people know that the authorities will fit a vehicle with a “boot” if the car or its owner are judged unsuitable to drive. This means that they put a big clamped lock on at least one of the wheels. Since this method is used by law enforcement, it is fair to say that it is effective. The only possible ways to remove the boot would be cutting it with a grinder (not easy or quick) or picking the lock. However, these are very effective anti-theft devices because they will prevent all but the most professional thieves.
- Highly difficult to defeat
- A long record of effectiveness
- Makes it physically impossible to drive the car
- Cumbersome to carry around
- Too inconvenient for everyday use
7. “Carlock” Module
The “Carlock” device is a small box that plugs into the diagnostic port on your vehicle. The diagnostic port is usually located below the steering wheel and is used by mechanics when they plug a diagnostic device into your car. It is controlled via a smartphone app, which is very convenient. This device will keep track of your vehicles’ location no matter where it goes. It will even give you a map to follow. Carlock can be configured to send alerts to your phone in response to a variety of events (your choice).
- Easy and convenient
- Not plainly visible without bending down
- Highly customizable
- Too easy for a thief to unplug
- Also, this option is too obvious-the box says “Carlock” on the front
- Uses juice from your vehicle battery
8. Hidden GPS Beacon
The “Carlock” device mentioned above is a specialized type of GPS device, but there are many other types of trackers that you can place on your car. One good look at the online merchant sites will show you just how cheap and small these things can be. A tracking device won’t stop your car from being stolen, but it should ensure that the police can find and return your vehicle. Unless, of course, the thief finds the device and removes it. To prevent this, you can buy the smallest GPS tracker you can find. Next, place it in the most hidden spot on your vehicle. Don’t put it anywhere in the interior of the vehicle. Put it under the hood or maybe somewhere underneath the vehicle. Every vehicle is different so use your best judgment.
- Easy to install
- Normally powered by rechargeable batteries
- Des not prevent theft
- May become damaged and stop working over time
9. Low-Tech/Low-Cost Solutions
There are a number of little low-tech tricks that you can use in combination with other methods to help ensure that your car isn’t stolen. One of these is to place a sign on your windshield that says “Broken down-please do not tow.” Use this in combination with a fuel cutoff device or an ignition cutoff device. This way, a thief will see it as a broken-down car, meaning that it isn’t worth the effort.
Unfortunately, there is no way to make your vehicle 100% theft-proof. However, it is not that difficult to deal with the majority of thieves, since the majority of car thieves are not skilled professionals. Any of the simple measures on this list would probably defeat the average car thief. The average thief (of any kind) will generally look for an easy mark. If you aren’t an easy mark, they will generally move on. However, there are those who actually steal cars for a living, and those are the people you need to think about when trying to choose the best anti-theft device for you.
Q – Are there any other solutions besides those listed here?
A – Yes. Those who work to prevent car theft are just as creative as the car thieves. This is just a list of the more common methods.
Q – How likely is my car to be stolen?
A – Statistically, this will mostly depend on where you live. There are whole gangs that support themselves largely through car theft. For those who live in low-crime areas, it isn’t all that likely to happen. Car theft usually requires a criminal network in order to process the vehicle discreetly. Your average suburban punk isn’t going to have that.