Thief Magnet
February 6, 2005 9:47 AM   Subscribe

I park on the street in an urbanish neighborhood. My car has gotten broken into twice now in a month. The little sh!ts got nothing either time, but I get to replace the window again. When I get out, I remove all interesting items and lock the doors. I reported it both times but the police aren't terribly encouraging that things will change on my street.

Other than moving to a house with a garage, what else should I be doing?
posted by pomegranate to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total)
 
Can you rent garage space somewhere close by?
posted by slater at 9:53 AM on February 6, 2005


Don't lock the doors, maybe?
posted by bachelor#3 at 9:53 AM on February 6, 2005


Nothing says "stay away from my car" like a rabid-looking pitbull in the backseat.

Actually, in seriousness, you could get one of those ultra-sensitive, ultra-neighbor-annoying alarms (with stickers on the windows), but I am not so sure that's going to do anything.

I guess if you were creative, and your apartment's window location allowed for it, you could put a video camera in the window and make note of it with a "this car is under surveillance" sticker on the window they keep breaking.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2005


For the love of god, PLEASE do not get an annoying car alarm.

I've noticed notes in the windows saying there is nothing of value inside. This might help, unless of course they are just vandals.
posted by hummus at 10:01 AM on February 6, 2005


As weird as it sounds (to me too), not locking the doors might work. If there's nothing in the car to steal.... if I did this I'd clean out the glovebox and take all the papers and insurance info out also.

When I was in Spain, it seemed a lot of people I knew cleared out their cars and left them unlocked. They told me people would break in anyway, so it was easier to let them see for themselves that there was nothing in there rather than worry about replacing broken windows.

If you're worried about your car being stolen, you can get your VIN (vehicle identification number) etched on your windows. That's supposed to deter most thieves, since it makes it hard for them to resell it.
posted by Melinika at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2005


A friend of mine in the east village (manhattan) doesn't lock his doors, no problems. His parents lived in the Tribeca area of Manhattan for decades, and tired of replacing windows. Nothing of any value in the car, doors unlocked. I doubt that unlocked doors will lead to theft, stealing a car doesn't seem like an impulse move. If it's a bad enough neighborhood, it might be inhabited, but it would have to be pretty bad.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 10:15 AM on February 6, 2005


doors unlocked. my wife followed this practice and the window breaking stopped.
posted by mwhybark at 10:25 AM on February 6, 2005


How about one of those blinking red light gizmos that looks like an annoying car alarm? I've seen them all over...usually pretty cheap.
posted by lobstah at 10:32 AM on February 6, 2005


Unlocked doors. Passive alarm.

Most punks will try the handle first.

In this case, the door opens, but the annoying alarm sets off.

They bolt. I reset the alarm.

Rinse and repeat.
posted by baltimore at 10:37 AM on February 6, 2005


You could follow hiking/camping rules in strange countries and near big cities. When you leave your car, empty everything of value out, and leave it unlocked plus be sure and open the glove box to show there is nothing in it.

Anyone walking by and looking in will get the message that you're proving to them there really is no reason to break in.
posted by mathowie at 10:51 AM on February 6, 2005


After my 4th broken window in a year, I joined the don't lock school - leave nothing in the car. Hasn't happened now for 4 years.

As an aside, if people must use alarms, I've always thought that they should be mounted inside the car - the noise makes it very uncomfortable for them to do their business inside the car.
posted by Neiltupper at 10:53 AM on February 6, 2005


Yeah, two close friends of mine do the same thing-- nothing of value in the car, doors left unlocked. Sometimes it will be obvious that someone has checked out the glove compartment, but neither of them has suffered a broken car window for years.
posted by jokeefe at 11:01 AM on February 6, 2005


Maybe sell the Infinity (or whatever) your driving and buy a crapbox. Works for me.
posted by recurve at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2005


Not to sound too gross, but doesn't leaving doors unlocked encourage homeless people to sleep/perform bathroom functions in the car?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2005


And what about the trunk? My car (closer to crapbox than Infinity) has a manual lever next to the steering wheel clearly labeled as the one to pull to pop open the trunk. Nothing of high value in there, but clearing it out each time I park for the night seems impractical (but surely less costly than new glass) and I'd worry a bit about having to replace the spare, first aid, few tools, etc.
posted by PY at 11:35 AM on February 6, 2005


PY, you could always cut the cable going to the trunk release. Some trunks, if you turn the key backwards, will lock until the master key is used again. This, of course, is so you can give the valet your valet key and they can't steal things from your trunk. Even my Corolla has this for some reason (who would have a valet park that?)

That being said, security cameras are DIRT CHEAP. I'd consider buying a couple of them and pointing them at the windows. Maybe a sign that says "wireless surveillance" would help.

Perhaps they'd steal the cameras, though. If that happens you're going to need to use real ones with actual wireless video so you can prosecute.

Thank God where I live I hardly EVER hear of people doing anything like this. Either that or my car just looks like too much of a shitbox inside and outside to make it an attractive target. I mean, if the theives are interested in stealing a box or two of 10 reams of paper, well, then I take that back.
posted by shepd at 12:12 PM on February 6, 2005


Re: Leaving the car doors unlocked.

I strongly disagree. Unless you are willing to perform an inventory search every time you get into your car, do not leave the doors unlocked.

If someone has been in your car you do not know what they have left behind. God forbid you are stopped for a traffic infraction some day and a police officer notices a syringe in the back seat or a plastic bag with a white residue in it. It will not be a nice scene.

SaucyIntruder: Yes.
posted by mlis at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2005


I just tried turning the trunk lock back with they key and it did made the trunk release button inside unworkable. It's nice to know about this feature and I wish I had known this back when the driver's side window was broken (I really did empty my trunk when that happened). Thank you shepd!
posted by PY at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2005


I guess I'm going to go with the take everything out/leave it open option; it's a Civic so it's not like it's the car itself I care about, but I do need it for daily transportation and sitting on broken glass really sucks.

My days of using my car as a big purse/locker are over for a bit. They've never taken a single item so I think they're just punkass brats trying to be cool, but better safe than sorry.
posted by pomegranate at 1:16 PM on February 6, 2005


I doubt anyone would camp out in your car. Anyone who tries to get in isn't looking for a place to hang out, they're looking to steal stuff. They're expecting to have to break in, and hanging around isn't on their mind. If I was looking for a place to shoot up or sleep, I could do better than to randomly try car doors.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:33 PM on February 6, 2005


If someone has been in your car you do not know what they have left behind. God forbid you are stopped for a traffic infraction some day and a police officer notices a syringe in the back seat or a plastic bag with a white residue in it. It will not be a nice scene.
This actually happened at work- a coworker gave someone else a ride home. Turned out they really didn't like the person and left some drugs in their car and called the cops getting them busted. However, I fail to see why someone who breaks in via opening the door is more likely to leave something "extra" than someone who breaks the window open.
posted by jmd82 at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2005


To those who say they leave their doors unlocked: do you have radios? I'm surprised that these aren't stolen. My ex had two radios stolen in about three months. Once was when the car was unlocked.
posted by odinsdream at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2005


I know someone who left his empty car unlocked so that people would stop stealing from it... and then they stole his battery. Is there a street with fewer aimless kids within walking distance that you can park on?
posted by xo at 3:22 PM on February 6, 2005


Doors unlocked, glovebox open, maybe even a sign saying "dear junkie...feel free to browse around, but pls donĀ“t break my window again...." - used by a friend in a junkie area of Sydney...no probs after that.

(you might occasionally find homeless ppl sleeping in yr back seat, tho. luckily, they tend to leave if asked politely)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on February 6, 2005


To those who say they leave their doors unlocked: do you have radios?

There are ways to protect radios: detachable faceplates, for example. Also, if the radio isn't very expensive, it's not worth the trouble of stealing it (screws may be very well protected) and then trying to pawn it.
posted by WestCoaster at 5:38 PM on February 6, 2005


Most long-term residents I meet here in Manhattan leave their car doors unlocked - I don't mean one or two people; I mean you can walk down the street and see rows of unlocked cars. It appears to be a holdover from times when car break-ins were more common here.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:37 PM on February 6, 2005


I know someone who left his empty car unlocked so that people would stop stealing from it... and then they stole his battery.
A lot of times, old batteries and hubcaps and other accessories are stolen so the theives can sell the new product when installed...I know a few people here in Athens it's happened to.
posted by jmd82 at 10:38 PM on February 6, 2005


I had my carburetor stolen. After I spent $900 to replace it and fix the door lock, I took my car to a welder and had short lengths of heavy chain welded to the underside of the hood and the frame of the car so I can lock the hood. I also started leaving my doors unlocked.

I also use The Club and The AutoLock.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:31 PM on February 6, 2005


Used to park in a lot at a Long Island station every day, leaving the car (junk heap) unlocked. This was fine 'til they stole the battery.
posted by Goofyy at 12:57 AM on February 7, 2005


opening the door is more likely to leave something "extra" than someone who breaks the window open.
But if your window is broken you know someone has been in your car. If you leave the doors unlocked and someone leaves something behind (even just a crack vial or something.) you might never notice till Mr. Police dog sniffs it in the crack of your backseat.

I don't think there is a cure all pomegranate especially if it's just random vandalism though it sure wouldn't hurt to try some of this stuff. One person I know is an advocate of parking your car on a corner under the theory that there will be twice as much traffic passing by. A layer of window tinting will make it easier to clean up the glass if the window does get broken.

I eventually ended up selling a 77 Ford pickup that had the starter stolen three times in about as many months.
posted by Mitheral at 12:01 PM on February 7, 2005


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