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Top 13 Ways to Protect Your Classic Car From Theft

February 07, 2022

Top 13 Ways to Protect Your Classic Car From Theft

Your classic car is your pride and joy. You work hard to restore it and maintain it to make sure it stays in its beautiful, classic condition. You may have put a lot of care into your vehicle, but how much thought have you given to classic car theft protection?

Stealing classic cars is not uncommon, and you can’t always rely on car alarms to chase away a determined thief — especially when many classic cars don’t come with electronic theft protection features as modern ones do. Find out how to protect your classic car from theft with these tips and tricks that will deter any car thief.

Why Are There Unique Theft Risks for Classic Cars?

With all of the expensive and tech-forward cars running around today, you may wonder why your classic car could be the next target. Classic cars have been scores for car thieves for years because they offer certain things newer models don’t. Namely, classic cars are often well-taken care of and can fetch a good price whole or sold for parts. Other reasons thieves may go for classic cars include:

  • Classic cars are a lot easier to break into and steal than new cars, making them easily accessible.
  • Their parts are extremely valuable. Classic cars are considered rare and unique for a reason and it’s because they are not found on every block, making their parts much more valuable.
  • Stolen classic cars are much harder to track and identify.
  • There is a strong international market for classic cars made in the United States. This means that if you have it, someone else in the world is going to want it.

Most people try to keep their classic cars as original as possible, which makes any kind of permanent or major modification for security purposes unappealing. Not to mention, if a professional car thief is set on stealing your classic car, not much is going to stop them unless proper measures have been put in place. Fortunately, you can reduce the chances of classic car theft by making it as difficult and inconvenient for the car thief as humanly possible, without sacrificing your car’s originality.

1. Join a “Watch Your Car” Program

Did you know that there is a federally sponsored anti-theft program for cars in the United States? The concept is as easy as placing a slightly noticeable sticker in your car’s front and rear windows. This sticker lets law enforcement know that your car does not typically travel at night or across national borders.

The majority of law enforcement officers, including local and border patrol, are trained to identify the stickers and know what they mean. If they see your classic car scooting around town or across borders at odd hours of the night, law enforcement is able to pull over the driver and perform an investigation to verify the driver and ownership of the vehicle.

To sign up, all you have to do is contact your local or state police departments and inquire about the “Watch Your Car” sticker program. Enrollment is cheap and even sometimes free, depending on the location.

2. Grab the Keys and Lock Up

Grab the Keys and Lock Up

According to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration, over 700,000 drivers fall victim to car theft each year. Most cases of these car thefts happen as a direct result of owners failing to lock their doors or take their keys with them when they leave their cars. Theft also happens when owners decide to leave a “secret” hidden set of keys that thieves often know to search for.

One of the most common reasons people leave their classic cars unlocked is because they feel that it makes the car less susceptible to damage if someone tries to break in. Unfortunately, leaving the doors unlocked defeats the security purpose and protection of having locking doors in the first place. Help protect your classic car by locking your doors and adding extra lock features, such as a steering wheel lock.

3. Be Aware of Your Parking Surroundings

Parking in alleyways, low-lit areas and places with little to no traffic flow leave your car an open target for classic car theft. If your gut is telling you that you should not park your car in a certain location, the chances are your intuition is right. Listen to it.

Always try to park your car in a garage that has security around the clock, be it guards or cameras, a well-lit area with lots of traffic or a private garage. Generally, the more light and activity there is around your vehicle, the less tempting it will be for someone to attempt theft for the risk of getting caught.

4. Put Away Your Valuables

If a car thief notices fancy electronics, wallets, or anything else valuable lying around the inside of your classic car, chances are higher that they will make a break-in attempt. Theives that are looking to resell valuable things for quick cash will be tempted to break into a classic car because they are so much easier to gain access to than new vehicles.

Keep your valuables stored away and out of sight whenever you leave your vehicle, even if it is only for a quick moment. Store things in your trunk, glove box or center console. Petty thieves looking for a quick turnaround usually won’t bother wasting time breaking into your classic car unless they have a clear vision of something worth the trouble.

5. Don’t Make It Easy

If a thief is interested in your car, you can’t always prevent them from at least attempting to achieve their goal. However, one of the best theft protection tips is to make it as difficult and inconvenient as you can.

There are a ton of different ways that you can make stealing your car an absolute disaster for those making an attempt. From aftermarket wheel locks that prevent the car from being moved, pedal locks, and more, you are sure to find the right solution. Some classic cars allow the owner to remove the steering wheel, making it difficult, if not impossible, to move the car anywhere.

Make sure whatever you choose is something you feel comfortable using as a security measure. It should be convenient enough for you to want to use, but difficult enough to slow down and even deter a potential thief.

6. Drive a Manual Shifter

Numerous surveys have shown that approximately 30% of drivers do not know how to drive a car with manual shifting. Even more interesting is that those who do know how to drive a stick often don’t feel comfortable enough to do so, especially not in a high-stakes situation like car theft. Thanks to automatic transmissions, stick shifts have become quite the deterrent for drivers everywhere.

This can actually play in your favor. If you own a classic car with manual shifting, you greatly reduce the number of thieves that may otherwise have had an interest in your car. Even if someone tries to attempt it, they won’t get too far unless they are knowledgeable and experienced enough with driving manual shifting vehicles.

7. Keep It Clean

Keep It Clean

Appearances are everything, even when it comes to classic car protection. Cars that do not have alarms or GPS tracking systems installed in them are a much easier target for potential theft. That is why those looking to steal or break into vehicles keep an eye out for cars that look poorly maintained.

Essentially, a clean and tidy classic car sends off an indication that the owner probably cares enough to install extra security measures of some sort to prevent theft. This simple step acts as a huge deterrent because a thief would rather move on to something that looks easier to manage.

8. Store It in the Garage

If you have the option to store your classic car in a garage or on the street, choose the garage. There are a couple of benefits to doing this, but mainly that a thief can’t steal what they don’t know is there. Storing your classic car in a garage will keep it out of sight and out of mind as opposed to leaving it out in the open for the world to see.

Not only that, but that is an extra obstacle a thief would have to overcome. They would first have to break into the garage without attracting any attention and then proceed to figure out how to steal the actual vehicle. It’s also easier to install extra alarms and security cameras in your garage than it would be to install that equipment on your car.

9. Put a Cover on It

If storing your classic car in a garage is not an option, you can still help protect it by making it less noticeable. Even if you have to keep it parked on the street, covering it completely can help deter potential theft.

Someone would have to fight with the cover, which would be nothing short of obvious, and they would have to know what they are dealing with. Taking away the visual aspect and leaving them with no idea of what could be under the cover puts thieves at a huge disadvantage. Covering could also be a great idea if you store your classic car in a garage that has windows as a way to ‘blind’ a thief.

10. Shed Some Light on the Subject

The majority of thieves prefer to target classic cars that are in dark places. This allows them to carry out their mission without being easily noticed or identified. An obvious way to thwart this is to have an ample amount of lighting around your classic car.

If you park your car in a garage, be sure to install extra lighting at the entrance. Motion lights at every entrance of your home can also help to chase away any individuals with undesirable plans. Thieves know that once motion lights turn on, not only may everyone in your home be on high alert for who could be outside, but the neighbors may be as well.

11. Switch on a Light and Turn on the Radio

Although this seems like an odd approach for theft protection for classic cars, it does seem to work rather well. Storing your car in a garage still means that it is left alone, but you can make it seem like the opposite by turning on a light and a radio. Doing this gives the indication that someone could be in the garage listening to the radio or working on the car.

If you choose to take this as an added precaution for reducing the risks to classic car theft, be considerate of your neighbors. You do not have to have the radio so loud that the other people in your neighborhood can hear. Keep it just loud enough that a potential thief will be able to hear it if they go skulking around your garage.

12. Do Not Advertise Your Absence

Do Not Advertise Your Absence

When thieves know that you are not going to be home, they see it as an opportunity to strike. Keep your classic car safe when you leave by keeping your comings and goings as private as possible. Do not advertise that you are going away on vacation on social media or leave a voicemail message for callers that state you will be gone for a certain amount of time.

If you’ll be away, ask a neighbor to collect your mail and packages so you don’t appear to be gone. Some thieves will do their research to determine when you will and will not be home. Giving out pertinent information is just what they need for their attempts to steal or break into your classic car to become a lot easier.

13. Check on Your Classic Car

Not everyone drives their classic cars as an everyday vehicle. A lot of people store them away when bad weather hits. You may not even have your classic car ready to show on the road yet if it is still in the stages of restoration. A common mistake is storing or covering a classic car and then forgetting about it until you go to work on it or drive it next.

You should check on your classic car every day, particularly in the mornings. Checking it frequently will help you to better recognize any signs of concerning mischief there may be. Not only that, but the longer a stolen car is unreported, the chances decrease of being able to locate it. After all, you can’t report something missing if you don’t know it’s gone, and time is crucial to recovery.

Find Anti-Theft Devices at Top Flight Automotive

Find Anti-Theft Devices at Top Flight Automotive

You spend a lot of time, money and energy to make your classic car as perfect as it can be. We understand the importance of protecting it. Top Flight Automotive is your one-stop shop for any kind of security device your classic car may need. We offer a wide range of options for protection, including:

  • Alarm systems
  • Anti-theft locks
  • Anti-theft switches
  • Car covers

We also provide parts and accessories for a wide range of vehicle manufacturers, including:

  • Chevrolet
  • Ford
  • Plymouth
  • Dodge
  • GMC
  • Pontiac

Our sales team has over 175 years of combined automotive experience. We can help guide you towards the right solutions for your classic car with unbeatable customer service and knowledge that you can trust. For superior products and quality service, contact us today to see how Top Flight Automotive can help you with your classic car needs.

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