How can I prevent my car battery from being stolen?
September 25, 2008 10:42 PM   Subscribe

I live in a busy downtown area with street cleaning every other night. As such, I am required to move the car each night, and sometimes end up parking it on a street that is notorious for car theft/etc. Lately, somebody has been somehow popping my hood, wrenching off the battery cover, and stealing my car battery.

Short of taking the battery with me or locking it in the trunk each night, how can I prevent this from happening in the future? Is there a way I can lock the battery in, or lock the hood down?

The car is a 2001 Toyota Corolla, and there aren't any obvious places on the hood/w/in the engine where I can attach a lock and chain.
posted by prior to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
You've probably seen these poking out of the hoods of hotrods, but you can buy and install aftermarket hood locks.

If you know a welder, I liked this guy's alternative approach because it is more stealthy.
posted by jamaro at 10:57 PM on September 25, 2008

I would consider renting a parking spot on a safer street, or parking your car on a street that is further away from your place but safer.

If you lock down or take home the battery, the thieves will not just give up and go home, they'll either steal something else, damage your car in retaliation, or both.
posted by qvtqht at 11:01 PM on September 25, 2008

Look around; are other hoods getting popped? If not, and if this is a repetitive crime, then there's something about your particular make/model that makes it easier to steal batteries from. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about this.

Here's a creative thought, though; for racing purposes, there are kits for relocating your battery to your trunk for better weight distribution. If the cost is low enough, have one of those installed, so at least it's in your trunk.

If you think you're being watched, though, you won't want to give this away -- so get/make a prop battery with some sand inside (not enough to be as heavy as a real battery) and just throw that in under the hood when you get in the car, and take it with you when you walk away.

But of course, it would be easier to find a better place to put your car.
posted by davejay at 11:42 PM on September 25, 2008

While not entirely related, it seems like the problem with catalytic converter theft is on the rise. A "catclamp" is suggested here, which probably won't help you at all (my sympathies, theft sucks), but at least someone is thinking along the lines of a solution.

You could also try writing something on the battery like: "Property of Prior - not for resale" with one of those metallic style pen things. Although, that is unlikely to help much either.

What about a battery-powered motion-sensor activated alarm placed on the engine? Get one you can arm and disarm with a key-chain unless you want to get back at your mechanic.
posted by Horatius at 11:47 PM on September 25, 2008

"stealing your car battery" as in, more than once? How many times has this happened?
posted by zippy at 11:59 PM on September 25, 2008

Zippy: it's a pretty common scam to note a car that parks on the street or in an open lot frequently and steal its battery, wait for the owner to get it fixed, and then steal yourself a BRAND NEW battery. The first theft is just a set-up.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:35 AM on September 26, 2008

This would be a cheap solution. Granted it is more of a hassle for you to put on take off every day but it should prevent the easy stealing of your battery. It will also prevent over theft of the radio or car and as an added bonus will keep the car cleaner.
posted by JJ86 at 5:54 AM on September 26, 2008

I would use several cable-style bicycle locks, loop them around a secure bracket or access holes in the frame-fender junction, and lock the battery to the car. Make them tight so the battery can't be slipped out from around them. I found an image of your engine compartment, and I think you could loop these locks under the battery tray and perhaps criss-cross them across the top, maybe incorporating the metal bracket that's meant to secure your batter to the tray.

Depending on how handy you are, you may be able to modify that metal bracket to accept a padlock by drilling out the bolt holes.

It's tight in there, but you might find some good places to secure cables after you remove the battery.

As for the hood, it looks like the latch mechanism is easily accessible via the twin plastic grills on the hood. I'll be the crooks are simply using a screwdriver to pop the hood open through the plastic grill. One thing you could do is install a heavy sheet metal screen with small holes in it on the backside of that plastic grill. If they couldn't get their screwdriver in there, they wouldn't be able to open it short of finding where the cable runs from the interior, which they won't do. Just be sure to allow enough air flow that your engine doesn't over heat.
posted by luckypozzo at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2008

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