You’ve heard it before, in a parking lot or somewhere in your neighborhood. Maybe even in your own driveway or garage after you’ve sat the wrong way on your keys. It’s that blaring siren or rapid honking we all know as a car alarm. Almost every modern vehicle has some kind of alarm installed as security, and the loud, attention-drawing noise they make usually does a great job at deterring any potential thieves.
But what if you forget to set an alarm, or don’t have one? What if a thief figures out how to disable your alarm, or just plain ignores it? Security doesn’t have to begin and end with a locked door and a car alarm – there are plenty of options for you to take it into your own hands, and that’s what this guide is here to help with.
- Finding the Right Anti-Theft Device
- Top 10 Best Car Anti-Theft Devices 2020
- 1. Best Overall Anti-Theft Device: Winner International The Club 3000 Twin Hooks
- 2. Best Premium Anti-Theft Device: Spytec GL300 GPS Tracker
- 3. Best Budget Anti-Theft Device: TICONN Faraday Bag
- 4. Best Anti-Theft Dash Camera: APEMAN Dash Cam
- 5. Best Tire Lock: Trimax TCL65 Wheel Chock Lock
- 6. Best Dual-Purpose Lock: Winner International The Club CL303 Pedal to Steering Wheel Lock
- 7. Best Budget Anti-Theft GPS Tracker: CARLOCK Car Tracker Alert System
- 8. Best Emergency-Preparedness Anti-Theft Device: Tevlaphee Steering Wheel Lock
- 9. Best Heavy-Duty Steering Wheel Lock: Disklok Security Device
- 10. Best Heavy-Duty Pedal Lock: Unelko Pedal Jack
- Guide to Car Anti-Theft Devices
- Preventing Car Theft FAQ
- Protecting your Car
Finding the Right Anti-Theft Device
Anti-theft devices have been available for vehicles for as long as vehicles have been around, so clever innovation has led to an awesome variety on the market. You’ll find everything from simple, low-tech solutions to cutting-edge technology always trying to stay one step ahead of criminals.
There’s nothing wrong with taking your time and browsing all of your options, but you can save a lot of window-shopping if you start out knowing what you want. To help you with that, we’re going to break down some of the most common types of anti-theft devices and what you should be looking for in each.
Types of Anti-Theft Device
Aside from the standard sound-based alarms we’re all familiar with, you can usually classify an anti-theft device under one of a few popular categories. There are more than we could possibly list here, so we’ve focused on the ones we think you’re most likely to run into.
- GPS Trackers: High-tech tracking devices that let you check the location of your vehicle from your phone or PC. They usually require a paid subscription.
- Dash Cameras: Records activity around your car in high-definition, leaving behind video evidence of any would-be criminals.
- Faraday Bags: Deceptively simple pouches, these stop anyone from intercepting your key fob signal and using it to unlock your car. Great for protecting bank cards as well.
- Steering Wheel Locks: You lock these around your steering wheel or column, reducing or eliminating the rotation completely and making it impossible to steer safely.
- Tire Locks: Also known as wheel chocks or tire boots, these make it hard or impossible for tires to rotate, so even if your car is started the thief can’t get away.
- Pedal Locks: Like a tire or steering lock, these fasten onto your pedals and can prevent a thief from accelerating at all.
We’ll go into further details about these types after the reviews, so if you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown, make sure you take time to check it out.
Evaluating Anti-Theft Devices
For each anti-theft device we’ve reviewed, we singled out the key features we felt any good security device should include so we could compare and contrast between them better. We’ll also spell out any important technical details, so you can tell at a glance if one of our picks is best for you.
While this is one of the quickest things to explain, it’s the first thing you should look at no matter the type of anti-theft device you’re dealing with. You don’t want to end up with a steering wheel lock too small or too large, or to end up with a standard-sized GPS tracker when there are much more compact options available on our list. For locks, this is the range they can extend between. For our other picks, it’s the dimensions of the device.
A security device is nothing without the ability to secure what you’re putting it on, and every pick on our list brings something unique to the table in that regard. Whether you’re looking for a cheap and simple additional layer of protection or the latest and greatest tracking devices, we’ll let you know exactly how well they’ll protect you and you valuables.
It’s worth keeping in mind that – like we talk about in the full guide below – there’s no such thing as fool-proof security. Anti-theft devices are awesome and more than worth the potential insurance savings, but none of them are magic solutions to crime.
Nobody wants their expensive new lock cut through or their GPS device broken by a light bump. Each device on this list is more than suitable enough for its job, but our reviews include any standout details about the materials or build quality.
We take into account the ease of use, installation, and all-around convenience of every pick. A solid, reliable steering wheel lock works great, but you’ll need to remove it every time you want to drive the car yourself and put it back on whenever you want it secured. Before you end up with something overly complicated for your tastes, check out this section to see our thoughts on the subject.
Once you know how we evaluated each of these anti-theft devices, you should have a great idea where to look to find out exactly what you want to know about each of our picks and why they’ve been included on this list. If you’ve still got questions, you can check out our FAQ section below, or read through our full buyer’s guide after the reviews.
Top 10 Best Car Anti-Theft Devices 2020
- Type: Steering wheel lock
- Size: <= 14.4” inside wheel radius
- Contents: 1 lock, 2 keys
When it comes to anti-theft locks, there are few brands as ubiquitous as Winner International. You’ll find their offerings anywhere car anti-theft devices are sold, and they’re among the most recommended brands on the market. We’ve even got more than one anti-theft device by them on this very list.
The Club 3000 upholds the tradition by offering a twin-hooked variation on more traditional steering wheel lock designs, which makes it even harder to budge.
Anti-theft devices like this one work by extending out past your wheel, making it impossible to complete a full rotation even if the car is started. The twin-hooks that give The Club 3000 its name improve on this by doubling the amount of hooking points on your wheel. With clever placement, this means twice as much sawing for a criminal, and twice the risk of being caught in the act.
Made of chromoly steel, which is considerably tougher and harder to weld than standard steel, The Club 3000 may not look overly impressive, but it’s more than solid enough to foil a thief looking for an easy target.
That said, because this isn’t a particularly heavy-duty model, it’s much more of a useful deterrent than an impervious lock.
With an installation and removal process that clocks in at under 30 seconds, putting on The Club 3000 is even easier than setting up a sun shade for your windshield. It automatically locks into place as you expand it, so you won’t need to worry about fumbling with the keys in a hurry. When you’re ready to drive, it collapses into a compact, roughly foot-long bar that can be easily stowed under a seat
There’s a reason this brand of anti-theft device is so widespread. Winner International even maintains a list of police departments that have included their classic The Club design among anti-theft device recommendations, and The Club 3000 only improves on that long legacy.
- Fits on almost any standard-sized steering wheel
- Keyless locking means quick and easy securing
- Great, recognizable deterrent
- Twin-hook design improves on an industry standard
- Could be more durable
- Type: GPS tracker
- Size: 3” (L) x 1” (W) x 1.5” (H)
- Contents: 1 tracker
- Monthly fee: $24.95
The Spytec GL300 is a battery-powered device smaller than a credit card, easily hidden anywhere in your vehicle you’d want. Once powered on and connected, its position is constantly being tracked, the rate of update dependent on the subscription tier you’ve chosen. Logging on through a mobile app or your computer’s browser, you’ll find a Google Maps-backed suite of security options that’s a cut above the rest.
Taking advantage of the unlimited tracking range, you can set custom boundaries in the app and configure alerts for when the device is detected arriving at or leaving destinations. It even tracks data long term, letting you compare trends through the device’s history. This can be especially useful for anyone looking to track something like a company car.
Despite the wealth of data provided on the app, the device itself stores absolutely no personal data, reporting just its position back to Spytec’s servers. That means in the unlikely event your tracker is discovered, you won’t have to worry about your information being compromised.
Surprisingly durable for such a small device, the GL300 is encased in a plastic shell sealed against the elements. If you find yourself still concerned about protecting the tracker or plan on hiding it on a vehicle’s undercarriage, Spytec also offers a waterproof magnetic case for easy mounting anywhere a magnet can attach – even outdoors.
Though you do have to occasionally charge the GL300, if you’re not constantly asking it to report back on its position it lasts on average around two and a half weeks. If you’re querying even less than that, it can stretch out to thirty days or even beyond.
With multiple ways to access your profile and tracking data, you’re never more than a few button presses away from a GPS update whether you’re near a phone, tablet, or laptop. Because Spytec’s servers and software handle everything that isn’t the device’s GPS location, updates can add awesome new functionality over time, like tracking accuracy improvements.
There are three tiers to Spytec’s subscription plan, each more expensive than the last. Even the cheapest option can run you more than some of the devices on this list do. It is nice to be able to pick how often you want tracking updates and pay just for that, though – not everyone will need close to real-time tracking.
Though you’re paying a premium for the Spytec GL300’s service, the robust feature-set and reliable tracking of this GPS device really do make it stand out. Imitators choose to mimic the GL300’s sleek design for a reason.
Those looking for something a little lighter on the wallet may prefer our budget tracker option, but if you’re looking for a premium anti-theft device, this is it.
- Can provide nearly real-time tracking
- Long-lasting battery means less retrieving to charge
- Accessible but robust suite of tools and alerts
- Small, portable shape - easily hidden anywhere, even under the vehicle
- Expensive monthly service fee required
- Type: Faraday case
- Size: 5” (L) x 3.5” (W)
- Contents: 2 pouches
Almost every vehicle manufactured in the twenty-first century comes with some form of remote keyless system, usually in the form of a key fob you can use to unlock or even start your car wirelessly. Experienced thieves have come up with ways to try and hijack the signal from your key fob, fooling the system into thinking they’ve got the remote even though you’re inside a restaurant or store.
We explain more about how this process works in our section on Faraday Cases in the guide below the reviews.
What you really need to know is the TICONN Faraday Bag acts as a protective shield that seals off whatever you put inside of the inner pocket from outside signals. This particular bag is said to work so well you couldn’t start a keyless ignition waving the fob in front of the dash if it were inside.
It isn’t just remote key fobs that benefit from this protection either – you can protect debit and credit cards from being scanned without your knowing too.
Stylishly textured tough polyester protects the two distinct sleeves on the inside of this pouch – one with the Faraday protection, the other just a regular pocket to hold things like IDs or debit cards. Though this material breaks in visually very quickly – especially in tight pockets – polyester is a long-lasting material you’ll find in all sorts of camping gear. Even the seat belts in your car are likely made of polyester.
When closed, this pouch is compact enough to comfortably fit inside of your pocket. There’s a metal hook sewn into it as well, making for easy attaching to a keyring. The second pouch is large enough you can easily fit the essentials inside, so if you’re looking to travel light, it can serve as a small wallet in a pinch.
This small size does rule out larger key rings, or ones already loaded up with many keys. In that case, you might have to remove your fob from the keyring to place it fully inside the pouch.
Some of our reviewers feel strongly enough about the benefits of Faraday cases they think one should come with the purchase of every vehicle. Even if you aren’t as concerned with the details, for a very reasonable price, TICONN’s Faraday Bags keep your key fob safe from an increasingly common criminal attack vector. No matter which of the products we’ve reviewed you end up choosing, we highly recommend considering picking up one of these along with it.
- Defends against electronic signal unlocking attacks
- Perfectly sized, fits well inside your pocket
- Very reasonably priced
- Too small for large or heavily-loaded keyrings
- Type: Dash camera
- Size: 3” screen
- Contents: 1 camera
Though usually used for insurance purposes or on the road safety, you’d be surprised just how useful a dash camera can be even when your car is stationary. That’s especially true with the APEMAN Dash Cam, as it comes with both motion and vibration tracking features that will start automatically recording footage as soon as they detect something wrong.
Because the camera mount swivels a full 360-degrees, you can even point it at the interior of your car or at the driver’s side window, potentially catching a criminal’s face or other identifiable features on camera.
On its own, a dash camera isn’t likely to deter a thief, but in combination with other anti-theft measures it can make your vehicle far less of an attractive target. The thief is more likely to move on to a less secure vehicle, and you never want that to be your own.
The mount this camera attaches to is solid and won’t shake loose while the car is in motion. While the plastic the camera itself is made out of doesn’t seem particularly cheap or flimsy, it isn’t particularly durable either, best kept away from any abuse.
It attaches to your windshield with a large, high-quality suction cup that won’t lose its strength even in the heat. Anyone living in a hotter climate knows exactly how brutal a summer day can be on the interior of your car, so seeing one of these keeping their strength even under those conditions is awesome.
Installation is a snap – all you have to do is press that suction cup against your windshield and run the power cable wherever you like. The cord is long enough to tuck out of sight, following the edge of your windshield down to wherever you’ve chosen to plug it in. You can even hide it away behind the rear view mirror or passenger side sun screen so it won’t distract you while the car is in motion.
The camera doesn’t come with a microSD card, so you’ll have to provide one yourself, but it will automatically start overwriting the oldest footage when it’s full, saving you the hassle of deleting old footage.
They aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of anti-theft devices, but high-quality portable cameras like this are cheaper than ever before these days. Just like using a security camera to monitor your home or business, keeping one on your car is just another layer of security between you and a criminal.
It won’t report back after the vehicle is stolen like a GPS tracker or slow down a carjacking like a pedal lock, but it could be the difference between discovering a thief’s identity and living in mystery.
- 1080p camera with HDR technology - works well even at night
- Automatically records footage after suspicious bumps or motion
- Provides all the benefits of a dash cam on the road
- Unlikely to deter a thief alone
- Type: Tire lock
- Size: 7.25” (small), 10” (large)
- Contents: 1 lock, 2 keys
For anyone who’s never used a wheel chock lock like this, think of them a little like tire boots – trying to drive off with one on is a bumpy, uncontrollable, unpleasant ride that runs the risk of damaging the wheel well if it’s pushed too hard. Needless to say, car thieves won’t be going anywhere fast with a TCL65 mounted.
The pinching claw design is meant to wrap securely around your wheel, but the lock adjusts from the base, so there’s little risk of the claws being bent back. If you’ve got the budget for it, they even sell 4-packs. That’s enough to mount on every single wheel, though that’s probably overdoing it for most drivers.
Made of a heavy-gauged powder-coated steel that resists rusting and protects against the elements, this is clearly a device meant to be used outdoors. As a wheel chock, it’s strong enough to withstand the weight of a car or truck driving over it even on asphalt.
Thanks to the sliding design the hooks are welded directly to the rest of the lock, not on hinges. That means the chances of bending or breaking them without powerful tools are close to zero.
Unlike a fancier tire boot or inconvenient lug nut locking system, wheel chock locks like the TCL65 are simple and easy to remove or install in a matter of seconds. Trimax even included a lock cover that stops debris from getting inside of the keyhole, a smart decision considering how close to the ground these devices will be mounted.
It’s important to note you need to occasionally lubricate and use this lock for the sake of it if you’re storing something long term to prevent corrosion and rusting.
For those with larger tires, they also offer a TCL75. It has the same design, just scaled up, so everything we’ve said about the TCL65 still applies. That means you can fit this wheel chock lock on almost any size of wheel.
The Trimax TCL65 Wheel Chock Lock beats out similar designs with its combination of convenience and security. The sturdy design and firm lock make driving off with it attached to a vehicle a recipe for disaster. It’s especially great for trailers, because you’ll need the power of an engine to stand a chance at making the wheel rotate with one of these clamped on.
- Well-designed for rugged outdoor use
- Universal tire compatibility between both sizes
- Great visual deterrent
- Needs regular use and occasional lubricating to stave off corrosion
- Type: Pedal and steering wheel lock
- Size: 22.5” – 30”
- Contents: 1 lock, 2 keys
The CL303 hooks onto your brake or clutch pedal and the lowest point of your wheel, using the leverage of each to stop the other from moving. Proper installation is extremely important – if your steering wheel isn’t centered, the device hooked to the lowest point, simply rotating your steering wheel can give enough slack to slide it off your pedals. You also don’t want it overly tightened, because the key mechanism won’t turn with that kind of tension on it.
The hardened steel this device is structured of – along with the awkward angle any would-be thieves would need to get at to attack it – makes it a formidable foe in the world of car security. It’s thick enough we don’t see it realistically bending, but even if it did, the thick hooks would be almost impossible to dislodge without practically bending the device in half.
At times this is a detriment, because if your key mechanism gets stuck because the device is under too much tension, you’re more likely to bend the key than budge the lock.
Just like the other Winner International anti-theft device reviewed on this page, the CL303 is quick to remove and quick to install, adding minimal time to your parking routine.
We recommend stepping out of the vehicle before trying to mount it, because it can get cramped and difficult to move around for taller drivers once locked on. The distance this device can lock across also makes it compatible with a wide range of vehicles.
As a neat bonus, the way the CL303 mounts leaves plenty of room for an additional steering wheel lock of your choice.
- Secures both pedal and steering wheel at the same time
- Wide vehicle compatibility
- Works great in tandem with other anti-theft devices
- Hard to remove if fit too tightly
- Type: GPS tracker
- Size: 1.99” (L) x 0.98” (W) x 1.95” (H)
- Contents: 1 tracker
- Monthly fee: $9.60 (first month free)
The CARLOCK Car Tracker Alert system plugs into your car’s diagnostics port to power itself, removing the risk of a battery dying when you need it most. The low-profile design and similarity to other common car accessories like performance chips mean this tracker is less likely to be noticed in the heat of the moment by a thief. It does give you a warning if the device is removed, but we found ourselves wishing it were a little lower-profile.
You’ll find the standard array of GPS tracking and alerts in the CARLOCK phone app, along with some unique features, like car battery monitoring or vibration and acceleration detection. We’ve seen feedback that the sensors in the CARLOCK are really sensitive – maybe too much so, capable of picking up large trucks rolling by in some cases.
The electronics are encased in sturdy plastic, but as with most anything you plug into your diagnostic port, it isn’t meant to take abuse. Just like other GPS tracking devices we’ve reviewed, these work best when they haven’t been noticed.
Never having to worry about retrieving this device and charging it is awesome. It won’t drain your car’s battery either, so you can leave it plugged in for around-the-clock protection. The phone app works well, but there have been complaints about connection issues and maps that aren’t as detailed as they could be. These are a little more forgivable when you consider the low monthly fee.
CARLOCK’s tracker isn’t the fanciest or stealthiest out there, but despite a slightly higher up-front cost the monthly service fee gives you more for your money than the alternatives. If you’re interested in securing your car with GPS yet your budget doesn’t agree with premium options like the Spytec GL300, this device is worth keeping in mind.
- No charging required - runs off the car battery
- Affordable monthly fee
- Remotely monitors car health, too
- Can be overly sensitive
- Easy to disable if found
- Occasional connection issues
- Type: Steering wheel lock
- Size: <= 12.2” inside wheel radius
- Contents: 1 lock, 3 keys
Replicating the classic hooked design used in successful steering wheel locks for decades now, the Tevlaphee Steering Wheel Lock is a great reminder of why it’s been so persistent through the years. It locks snugly around the inside of your wheel, leaving little slack behind. The uncommon shape of the keyhole makes it significantly harder to quickly pick.
We’ve spoken more about how steering wheel locks work in our full guide blow – but what really makes this device stand out is the weight and attachable safety hammer tip.
Coming with an unfortunately flimsy and easily breakable plastic cap for protection, attaching the safety hammer tip transforms the Tevlaphee from a durable but standard lock into an invaluable companion in an emergency situation.
If your doors ever wind up stuck shut for some reason – through damage or flooding, for example – this heavy device doubles as a safe way to break through glass in a hurry. Thanks to that weight, it can even make for a decent self-defense tool in a dire situation
This is an inch-thick steel rod locking firmly onto your steering wheel. Because of its weight and construction, we think you’ll have zero worries about using it as a safety hammer. It’s durable and weighs over three pounds – we actually recommend you take care when moving it around your car, because it could easily damage the interior or a window.
The weight and snug fit of the uncoated steel parts may run the risk of damaging soft steering wheels, so if you’re concerned about that being an issue, you may want to put a steering wheel cover on first.
Simple and easy to install as well as remove, we found the convenience of this device on par with what you should expect from any quality steering wheel lock. The slim form factor means it’s easily stored away under your seat when not in use, but you’ll need to take care you don’t damage the interior of your car with that pointed safety hammer.
We did notice a tendency for the locking mechanism to jam up from time to time, but the manufacturer recommends you apply a quality anti-seizing lock lubricant to the key upon first use or whenever this becomes an issue.
It may not carry the pedigree or advanced design of The Club 3000, nor match the heavy-duty Disklok, but the Tevlpahee Steering Wheel Lock does offer an extremely durable example of a classic anti-theft device. The extra steps toward safety and emergency preparedness, however, are what earned it a place among our best car anti-theft devices.
- Doubles as a safety hammer, protecting even while it’s not mounted
- Very durable - extremely difficult to bend or damage
- Unique keyhole design is far harder to pick than the standard
- Uncoated steel parts may damage wheel if mounted too tightly
- Lock needs occasional lubrication or it may jam
- Plastic safety hammer cover flimsy and easy to break
- Type: Steering wheel lock
- Size: 13.7″ – 15.3″ (small), 15.4″ – 16.3″ (medium), 16.4″ – 17.3″ (large)
- Contents: 1 lock, 3 keys
Disklok definitely scores points on appearances here – there’s nothing that says ‘secure’ quite like having your entire steering wheel locked behind metal. The device is designed to sit just loose enough on your steering wheel to spin independently, making it impossible to steer the car itself.
We’ve seen complaints about the back of this device being open, allowing a nimble thief to reach behind it and steer the car even with the lock on, but this is actually where our favorite feature kicks in – the large, bulky handle you use to clamp the Disklok over your steering wheel acts like a traditional steering wheel lock itself. That means even if they can turn it, they won’t be able to manage the radius to drive safely.
One look at the Disklok Security Device should be enough to tell you just how durable this mighty lock is. It’s roughly ten pounds of hardened steel mounted on your steering wheel – nothing short of power tools, a locksmith, or the actual keys themselves stand a chance at getting through.
It’s so heavy and durable you might want to consider using a steering wheel cover to prevent it from leaving marks in soft material.
Despite the large size and weight, actually putting the Disklok on your steering wheel is a pretty quick and easy process once you’ve gotten used to aligning the two halves together. The large handle that aids in security can make it hard to mount without bumping your windshield, and while the anti-picking design of the lock is a great feature, unlocking it can involve more fiddling than a standard lock.
If there’s one big convenience complaint we had, it’s this device being harder to stash away when not in use – many cars don’t have seats sitting high enough for it to slide under, and it’s way too large for the glovebox.
This is a great option for someone looking for durability no matter the cost, but might be too expensive and unwieldy for the average driver. When you’re getting into this kind of budget, you’re competing with some of the most premium picks on this list.
We liked what Disklok has to offer here, but it ultimately serves the same purpose as far cheaper options, so we recommend making sure the investment in unbeatable security is right for you.
- The most durable lock we reviewed
- Anti-drilling and picking design foils lock attacks
- Available in three different sizes, so almost any vehicle can use it
- Unlocking can be fiddly, requires key jiggling
- Very pricey for what you get
- Size makes it hard to store
- Type: Pedal lock
- Size: Fits pedals of 3/8″ width x 1.5″ depth or less
- Contents: 1 lock, 3 keys
There are a lot of dedicated pedal locks out there on the market, but many of them are little more than small pieces of steel supported with simple, minimal locking mechanisms. Unelko’s designers felt that just wasn’t good enough for an anti-theft device, producing this behemoth of a saw-proof and freon-resistant pedal lock.
Once it’s locked in properly the pedal isn’t going anywhere. The packaging advertises it as for automatic transmission cars, but if you’ve got the room for it, we’ve seen people using this pedal lock on clutches as well.
Particularly cool is the custom plus-shaped design of the lock, making it much harder to pick or duplicate the keys – although this also means spares can be an issue, because they’re not offered at the time this review is being written.
Made of four pounds of heat-treated tempered steel, we briefly mentioned in the security section this device can easily foil saw or prying-based attacks. It would take either superhuman strength or heavy-duty power tools to cleave through this lock, meaning any thief is in for a lengthy and risky job if they come after your vehicle.
Because pedal shapes and layout can vary between makes and models, the Unelko Pedal Jack doesn’t fit the same way in every case – or at all, if the pedals are too close together. It can take some measuring and trial and error to find a spot that doesn’t leave your pedal moving or your lock sliding. With enough use this is much less of a problem, and you’ll be able to get your pedal locked up in less than a minute.
It might lack the versatility and friendly price of our favorite pedal lock, but we couldn’t leave out such a sturdy, heavy-duty option.
Similar to the Disklok, we recommend these to anyone looking for durability no matter the cost.
- Made of the same material as many pedals - extremely solid build
- Plus-shaped key and lock design is very hard to pick
- Fits any kind of pedal as long as there’s room
- Can be hard to mount properly
- Spare keys are hard to get your hands on
Guide to Car Anti-Theft Devices
Roughly every 40 seconds, a vehicle is stolen in the United States. The FBI estimates in 2017 alone over seven-hundred thousand vehicles were stolen, totaling over six billion dollars in losses. Some of these vehicles are never recovered. The National Highway Traffic Association even offers a searchable directory of up to date vehicle theft statistics.
Benefits of Anti-Theft Devices
It might surprise you to learn that countering criminals is only the beginning when it comes to anti-theft devices. While that’s a huge part of what they’re designed to do – it is in the name, after all – there are a wealth of benefits anti-theft devices can provide aside from that.
Did you know just installing an anti-theft device in your car might save you money, even if nobody spares a second glance at it? Here are just a few of the things you can look forward to after securing your vehicle.
Many modern cars have some form of anti-theft feature already built in, but thieves are constantly probing defenses and finding potential weak points. This is especially an issue on older models, which rely on long out-dated methods of defense. Lock-picking, power tools, bolt cutters, even using chemicals to freeze metal brittle – there’s no end to criminal ingenuity.
That’s what makes taking anti-theft measures into your own hands so important. Manufacturers have done a great job at coming up with ways to recover cars, but they can only update their models so often, and most people don’t purchase the newest model every year.
Specialized anti-theft devices can make up for vulnerabilities left behind in your vehicle, and might just be the difference between yours being lost or recovered if it’s ever stolen.
We speak a little about this in the FAQ section at the end of this guide, but most car insurance companies offer potentially large discounts on your insurance just for making sure you’ve got an anti-theft device installed.
Because so many cars sold today come with some form of anti-theft installed stock, you might already benefit from this – but for older cars or ones lacking in security features, your anti-theft device may end up paying for itself.
Peace of Mind
You might be feeling a little nervous after hearing the statistics, but that’s exactly why so many companies are constantly innovating new and interesting ways to foil potential criminals and keep your valuables safe.
Installing an anti-theft device isn’t just a good idea, it’ll help you rest easier at night knowing your vehicle is that much more secure.
Types of Anti-Theft Devices
As we spoke about a bit before the reviews, it’s good to have a general idea of the most popular types of anti-theft devices while shopping for the best one. You can follow the anchor links in each section to find an example of each type as you go.
These are small devices that work almost anywhere there’s cell phone coverage, but usually require some sort of monthly service fee and account management. The advantages of GPS trackers like the Spytec GL300 include nearly real-time tracking of your vehicle, customizable alerts, and new features via online updates. They’re the best at helping track down a stolen vehicle after the fact, and some higher-end cars are now including them as built in anti-theft features.
Usually used for road safety, it shouldn’t surprise you that dash cameras like the APEMAN Dash Cam have a role to play as an anti-theft device too. Having a camera mounted in your car that’s constantly primed to catch anything on video is just as important and useful as installing a security camera to watch anything else you want to monitor. Because they run off your car’s battery, you usually don’t even have to charge them.
Little more than unassuming pouches at first glance, Faraday cases such as those sold by TICONN are deceptively useful, especially in this modern era full of electrical signals. Because inventive criminals have found ways to steal the unique signal a key fob gives off, allowing them to fool vehicles into thinking they’ve been asked to unlock or even start, in a keyless ignition system. They can do this from shockingly far away, while you’re in the store, your home, or even enjoying a night out.
A Faraday case insulates your electronics from the outside world, making it impossible to hijack your signal and compromise your car. This is easy enough to do that we think if you only choose one anti-theft device to add to your life, a Faraday case should be a strong contender.
We decided to put these in a category together for the purposes for this guide because, while their forms and intended functions may vary, they all ultimately serve the same purpose. Using sturdy build materials, these are meant to prevent the function of whatever they’ve been locked on.
Steering wheel locks like the excellent Club 3000 often extend a large metal arm out, making it impossible to spin it around completely. Pedal locks hold your brake, gas, or clutch pedal firmly in place, preventing operation of the vehicle entirely. Trimax makes a great Tire lock that acts like a car boot, throwing off the balance of the four wheels and drastically increasing the difficulty of driving fast or straight.
Despite the dozens of options you can find on the market that fall under one of the above categories, this is far from the end of it. For those with the budget and desire, you can find anti-theft devices that will let you shut down your vehicle remotely. Some will do so automatically, so a thief is stopped before you even know your car is being burgled.
Manufacturers are also constantly innovating their models with clever new built in anti-theft features. That means you can start thinking about anti-theft options before you’ve even purchased your vehicle – and the sooner you secure things, the better.
Tips for Preventing Car Theft
When it comes to any field of security, it’s always important to understand you’re dealing in deterrents, not guarantees. No device is fool-proof – even the biggest insurance companies provide whole lists of other steps you can take to keep your vehicle safe, and we can’t recommend following them enough.
There’s so much to say on the subject it’s worth an article all on its own, but a little goes a long way. Try a few of these tips out to keep your car safer without spending a dime:
- Always lock your doors and roll up your windows.
- Never leave a running car unattended.
- Keep your keys with you, in a safe place or even a faraday bag. Never leave your keys in the car.
- Hide valuables out of sight in glove boxes or under seats – try to avoid obvious hiding places like covering them with a coat or sweater.
- Choose your parking places wisely – well-lit and populated places are much less attractive targets to potential thieves.
- Even the sight of a steering wheel lock can encourage a thief to move on to an easier target.
Preventing Car Theft FAQ
Still have questions about how to keep your car safe from thieves? Read on to get the answers to all of your questions about the best ways to use anti-theft devices.
Do I need more than a car alarm to protect my vehicle?
A car alarm is a great initial deterrent, but won’t stop a determined thief from making off with your valuables or even finding a way to shut it off and drive away. Anti-theft devices can help prevent that and track down your car if the worst happens. A regular car alarm doesn’t provide the same peace of mind knowing your car is secure.
Will anti-theft devices stop my car from being stolen?
No security device is a fool-proof guarantee, but anti-theft devices are proven to drastically reduce the chances of burglary and increase the odds your vehicle is one of the sixty percent of stolen vehicles recovered a year.
Will a car anti-theft device work on any vehicle?
Yes, most car anti-theft devices will work on any vehicle they can properly fit on, regardless of make or model. GPS trackers and dash cameras in particular are universal and work with just about anything you feel the need to use them in.
Can I get an insurance discount for having an anti-theft device?
Yes, in some states, some of the largest and most well-known car insurance companies – like Nationwide, StateFarm, Geico, and Allstate – may offer potential discounts just for installing an anti-theft device or buying a car that comes with one installed.
Protecting your Car
There’s more to be said about anti-theft devices – with so many niches and subcategories of products – than can really be captured in the span of a single article like this. On this site alone, our team has reviewed the best disc brake locks, wheel locks, steering wheel locks, and dash cameras just this year, along with the devices covered on this page.
Each of these guides is full of products and information just as dedicated to keeping your vehicle safe as the ones on this page are. We hope with our help, you can eventually find the security solution that works best for you, little you rest a little easier knowing your investment is protected.