Gianetta Palmer is a writer for, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Although the total number of auto thefts has gone down in recent years, theft is still a major concern for car owners. Thefts can happen anywhere, but they are most common in states near country borders. California has substantially more auto thefts than any other state, with seven of the top 10 cities with the highest theft rates; other states with high theft rates include Washington, Texas, Arizona and Michigan. Even in states with a comparatively low incidence of theft, crimes of opportunity often occur and vehicles can be stolen if the car is left vulnerable to thieves.

Car Insurance and Theft

Auto insurance prices are highest in areas with a high number of thefts, and your vehicle may cost more to insure if it is a model that’s commonly sought out by thieves. Theft is also one reason why insurance premiums vary in price between neighborhoods in a single city; if you live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, your vehicle is at a higher risk of being stolen, so the insurance will cost more.

Fortunately it is possible to save money on your car insurance and reduce the chances of the car being stolen by installing anti-theft devices. The best way to prevent a theft is by making a multi-layered approach to protection. The installation of any of the following devices will lead to a reduction in insurance prices; installing all of them will maximize your savings and provide the best possible protection from theft.

Warning Devices

These are visible or audible devices that alert thieves to the fact that the car is protected from theft. For example, there may be an audible car alarm that sounds if they attempt to break into the vehicle. The VIN may be etched into the glass or metal compartments of the car, making it a less attractive mark for thieves. There may be obvious theft deterrents such as wheel locks or steering wheel collars.

It’s a good idea to couple these devices with visual cues. For example, you may put a decal in your window declaring what type of alarm you have, or a light may flash in the door when the alarm is activated. These simple visual cues alert thieves that the car will be more difficult to break into, and they will bypass it in favor of easier targets.

Immobilization Devices

Once the car has been broke into, an immobilization device keeps the thief from hot-wiring the car. Some car manufacturers build ignitions with special microchips; they will only start if the corresponding key is placed in the ignition. Other cars may not start unless a special button is pressed to disable the anti-theft system; without knowing where the release is, the thief may not be able to steal the car.

Of course, professional thieves will know which cars come standard with these features, which makes them a deterrent without ever using them. If you add these features after-market, they may not be as effective in preventing the car from being targeted by thieves, but they will provide a precaution against total theft.

Tracking Devices

Finally, one of the best theft control devices you can install in your vehicle is a tracking device. Once activated, this device will emit a signal that can be broadcast to police departments or third-party groups line On-Star. Many of these devices can be activated remotely, so you can engage the tracking device after the car has already been stolen, making it easier to locate it and recover the missing car.

One of the most useful qualities of a tracking device is telemetic technology, which combines an alert signal with GPS tracking to provide an exact notification of where the vehicle is located. This makes it easier than ever to locate a stolen vehicle. Some GPS tracking devices even allow the option to disable the vehicle from a distance, rendering it nearly impossible for thieves to continue using a vehicle once it’s been identified as stolen.

Installing one of these devices doesn’t guarantee that your vehicle will never be stolen, but it does improve your odds of avoiding a theft. Many new vehicles come standard with all of these options, but you can always add after-market versions to an older model vehicle to improve its overall safety.

Be sure to keep receipts for any anti-theft devices that you buy and install. You can provide your insurance company with proof of these changes so that you can enjoy the associated discounts. Be sure to ask the insurer if there are any other discounts you may be eligible for or programs you can enroll in that will reduce the cost of your insurance even further.