Convertible with top - Lock the doors, or leave them unlocked?
March 30, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Loss prevention in a convertible with soft top - Lock the doors, or leave them unlocked?

I recently heard an interesting loss prevention technique for convertible owners. Lock anything of any value away in a secure location within the car, and leave the doors unlocked. That way, a thief won't slash your $500 top to get into your car and realize there's nothing there. Just leave the doors open, and they'll look inside, realize there's nothing to be stolen, and take off.

Does this sound like a reasonable course of action to you guys?
posted by rinogo to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
Does it sound reasonable: yes. The windows on my car are tinted, so you can't really easily see in. A while back it got broken into (window smashed), but there was nothing inside to steal. I bet I could have saved 230 bucks by leaving my door unlocked.
posted by phunniemee at 9:05 AM on March 30, 2009

This is exactly what I did when I had a convertible. If anyone did gain unauthorized access to my car, I never noticed.
posted by sacrifix at 9:05 AM on March 30, 2009

Yeah, that's what I did when I briefly owned a Jeep, years and years ago.

Even better than locking things away in a secure in-car location, I think, is to simply not leave anything of value in the car at all.
posted by box at 9:07 AM on March 30, 2009

This is exactly what people do on the bad side of town here. No sense in loosing a window. As the saying goes, "locks keep an honest man out."
posted by niles at 9:08 AM on March 30, 2009

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work--I've known more than a few people who have left the car unlocked, only to have the burglar just cut the top or smash a window anyway.
posted by box at 9:11 AM on March 30, 2009

I've owned jeeps and sports cars with soft tops...the rule, don't keep anything in them of value, never lock the doors.

I even put a sign on one of the jeep windows saying "there's nothing in here you want, the doors are unlocked, take a look if you want to"...

don't keep a gps, don't leave your computer or cell phone, keep the crappy OEM radio...
posted by HuronBob at 9:11 AM on March 30, 2009

You might want to leave the windows rolled down, if it's not rainy. That tells a thief "there's nothing here."

I had a window broken when the door was unlocked. Sometimes they don't even look.
posted by musofire at 9:13 AM on March 30, 2009

The only downside I could imagine would be IF something valuable actually was stolen from your car, and IF your insurer somehow discovered you left your car unlocked, they would have cause to decline coverage on the loss.

Now, as to HOW they would ever discover you didn't lock the car...who knows? It would certainly require that you lie to anyone to whom reported the theft (i.e. police and insurer)
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on March 30, 2009

Thanks for the input, everyone! Your responses are very helpful, and pretty much what I expected. The only hitch in this plan is that the car already has an aftermarket stereo (that's 5+ years old and worth essentially nothing), but I fear it would be stolen if I just leave the doors open and such. It's so old that it's hard to get it to work right when re-attached to the main unit, so I dislike taking it off... What are my options? I thought about mounting some brackets around the faceplate so you'd have to physically remove the entire stereo to get the faceplate, but these brackets would make the stereo appear to be even more valuable. Thoughts?
posted by rinogo at 9:22 AM on March 30, 2009

I wouldn't worry too much about the stereo -- car stero theft is apparently a dying crime.
posted by susanvance at 9:26 AM on March 30, 2009

Yup - this is what I did when I owned a Miata. Now, in the Miata community you heard from a few people once in a while that did this and STILL had their top slashed because the thief didn't check the doors first. However, it's commonly thought to be a good idea to leave the doors unlocked.
posted by xotis at 9:29 AM on March 30, 2009

I own a Miata, and this is what I did before going to school in midtown Atlanta. I am in a secure deck most of the time, and it seems as though locking the doors with so many other cars around just decreases an incentive to break in. I lock my trunk and glovebox.
posted by derogatorysphinx at 9:42 AM on March 30, 2009

I always did that - I didn't want to replace the radio and the top. Nothing ever got stolen, except once an umbrella disappeared, but I could have left it somewhere and only thought it was in the car. Once someone went through the glove compartment. We lived in a sketchy neighborhood across the street from a bar in New Orleans.

However, we used to periodically leave the top down, and once my husband went out to go to work and was surprised by a dog sleeping in the car. We had an ancient VW Rabbit.
posted by artychoke at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've owned several convertibles, and that's what I did. Often, I'd leave the top down (though not usually overnight). I have no idea if anyone ever rifled through any of them, but the roofs and windows stayed intact, and nothing got stolen -- because there was nothing to steal.

Getting in the habit of leaving your car unlocked means that you get in the habit of leaving nothing of value in the car. Exit your car as if you were leaving it with the windows/roof down... and there's no reason to have a lock. It's like dancing as if nobody's watching.
posted by toxic at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2009

these brackets would make the stereo appear to be even more valuable. Thoughts?

Duct tape will both hold the faceplate on and appear to decrease the value of the unit.
posted by toxic at 10:13 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I owned a classic convertible for 12 years and usually left it parked with the top down. Other than the time I came back to find an elderly gentlemen sitting in the front seat with nostalgia in his eyes (he owned the same model/color as a teen), no one ever messed with it.
posted by jamaro at 10:21 AM on March 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is good practice for any type of vehicle. The inconvenience of having to replace a smashed window dwarfs the "inconvenience" of not leaving valuables in your car
posted by Neiltupper at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2009

I agree with everyone else that the unlocked doors are a good idea, but a heads up that no matter how old and worthless your radio is, just being aftermarket makes it a greater theft target. I had to replace a $230 window when my $15 stereo was gracefully removed. Hell, the CD that was in there was worth more than the stereo...
posted by hwyengr at 11:06 AM on March 30, 2009

The Geo Tracker top is just secured with velcro on the sides, so no point in locking it up. But even leaving it unlocked, I'd still find the sides un-velcro'd about once a week.
posted by nomisxid at 11:28 AM on March 30, 2009

Reading all the responses here .. and I initially found myself agreeing that leaving it unlocked is probably the smartest approach. But then I realized that I lock my Jeep Wrangler (soft-top) out of habit. Although I will say this: I never keep anything in the Jeep (so if anyone looks inside, they see nothing to steal) Its still got the original cheap factory stereo. The only time I've ever had anything "slashed" was punk neighborhood kids on a vandalism spree.
posted by jmnugent at 11:57 AM on March 30, 2009

I've always heard, though, that if something does get stolen and you report it - the insurance company will look for evidence of the lock being forced/the windows broken/the top slashed, and if there's no evidence of any of those, they'll conclude you left your doors unlocked and deny you coverage.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2009

I worked at a car lot in high school where we had break-ins every week. I was in charge of the security tapes, so I saw all the tricks. Basically, lock your doors and hide all valuables. A thief of opportunity will be deterred by seeing locked doors and nothing to steal quickly, a determined thief won't even try the door lock, as pulling a door handle is more likely to set off a car alarm than breaking a window properly (with pressure and damped with cloth, not brute force). It's also much easier to break a window than cut through a top. You don't have to carry a knife, either.

Thieves always go for the lowest hanging fruit that they can get away quickly with.

Also, if your stuff or car gets stolen and you've had your doors unlocked, your insurance company may decide you're an idiot and not cover the theft.
posted by GeorgeJetson at 6:17 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Learning Carpentry Skills   |   Can you help me ballpark repair costs and sourcing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.