How to Prevent People From Breaking Into a Car

As the level of soft crime increases, people tend to start asking how to prevent people from breaking into a car. Here are 7 incredibly creative ideas to do it.

car prowler looking into a vehicle in article on How to Prevent People From Breaking Into a Car

Nobody wants to have to deal with their car being broken into. But as the level of soft crime increases, car break-ins tend to become more common and that's when everybody starts asking how to prevent people from breaking into a car.

Whenever the economy takes a hit, the amount of "soft crime" that takes place tends to increase (a good example of a "soft crime" is when amateur, or opportunistic, thieves walk around checking car doors in the middle of the night to see who left their doors unlocked).

Because of COVID-19 and the number of people who are now staying at home during the day, this type of activity has shifted even more-so to theft from vehicles at night, as opposed to home break ins during the day (when people are normally at work).

Key things to remember about crime

When it comes to crime and learning how to prevent people from breaking into a car, there are two key things you should remember when becoming pro-active to prevent yourself from becoming a victim:

  1. There are two types of thieves: amateurs and professionals

  2. There are two types of targets: soft targets and hard targets

Let's break it down.

Amateur criminals look for "soft targets"

You've seen it before. The grainy video of someone walking up to a car outside of a business or house and looking casually into the window to see if anything of value is sitting inside.

Then they will probably grab the door handle and test it real quick to see if it's unlocked.

The same thing happens with homes while you're at work. The criminal is looking for "soft targets".

Vehicles, homes, or any other location where valuables are left unprotected are all considered soft targets.

We'll talk about turning soft targets into hard targets more in-depth in this article as we continue to explore how to prevent people from breaking into a car.

Amateur thieves do not have sophisticated skillsets

This one may seem a little obvious, but most "amateur thieves" do not have specialized or sophisticated skill sets (or the equipment needed to use those skill sets) that would allow them to access what is known as "hardened targets".

An amateur thief is often described as an "opportunist". They're also the most annoying type of thief.

Amateur thieves are not typically the ones unlocking your vehicle, disarming your car alarm, and hot-wiring the vehicle or hooking it up to a tow-truck and driving away with it.

If you're up against that type of thief, then:

  1. This isn't their first rodeo. They are probably "professional criminals".

  2. They are probably part of a criminal network with access to finances and equipment.

  3. You probably don't stand a chance, no matter what you try to do to protect your property.

image of thief breaking into a car with a screwdriver in article on How to Prevent People From Breaking Into a Car

Not everybody knows how to break into a locked vehicle.

I can have some level of respect for a thief who has taken the time to hone in their craft and develop some serious skills. But opportunists are just simply annoying, lazy individuals who look for opportunities to grab and run.

It is relatively easy to "harden the target" and prevent car break-ins

Now that we have established the key differences between the two types of thieves, it's time to identify how to stop the most common one; the amateur (aka opportunist).

ExpertTexan participates in affiliate programs. Any links provided in the text below may be affiliate links that we benefit from financially. Please use our links as they help us to be able to continue providing you with quality content free of charge.

How to prevent people from breaking into a car

The list below is a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) list of ways that you can turn a "soft target" into a "hard target" and make life a little bit more difficult for would-be thieves.

Be sure to read to the last item on the list if you want to have a good laugh at a criminal's expense.

1) Remove or hide valuables

This is the first and most important method to implement when learning how to prevent people from breaking into a car.

By removing any obvious incentives (e.g. wallets, gps, smart phone, camera, purse, etc) that someone may have for breaking into your vehicle, you automatically make your vehicle less appealing than the one parked next door.

If you are not always able to take your valuables with you (including concealed firearms into certain stores), then you will want to get a car safe that's compact and easily hidden and secured to the interior of the vehicle.

2) Lock your doors (all of them)

If your door is unlocked, and someone opens your car door and steals something from your car, did they really "break-in"?

Not really.

You pretty much just invited them in to steal from you.

If you want to prevent people from breaking into your car, then the best habit you can possibly develop is to lock your doors all.the.time.

Even if you are only walking away from your car for 2 minutes. Lock your door.

Remember to lock ALL of your doors (front, back, trunk, glove box, center console, etc). When you walk away from your car, every lock that can be locked should be engaged.

3) Tint the windows and use a windshield cover

Accidents happen. Sometimes we make mistakes, or we simply forget and we leave something of value in plain sight inside our vehicle.

Even though it's locked, if the item is of high enough value, it might be worth making some noise and breaking the window for a quick smash, grab and run.

So to help reduce the likelihood of that scenario ever playing out, it's always a good idea to tint your windows and use a windshield cover so that it's hard to see through any of the windows into the interior of the vehicle.

That way, even if you did leave your iPad sitting in the backseat, they won't be able to see it with just a passing glance as they case the parking lot for soft targets to break into.

4) Advertise that your car has a security system installed

The Electronic Security Association estimates that 60% of would-be burglars are deterred when a home has a security system sign out front (regardless of whether or not the house ACTUALLY has a security system installed).

While there is not as much data available when it comes to cars and security signs, one would deduce that a security sign on a car would have a similar effect when it comes to opportunistic, amateur thieves looking for a soft target and a quick break.

If you are a burglar looking for a quick steal, you probably are not interested in drawing too much attention to yourself. If that red light is flashing on the dash, and a warning sticker on the door window says that the car is armed, chances are... you pick the next car over.

It's not rocket science. Advertising that your vehicle is armed and dangerous is a quick and easy way to prevent people from breaking into your car.

This vibration sensing alarm is a great deterrent if you need a quick and cheap alarm system for your vehicle. You can get a few and put one in each of the side pockets on each door. If your door is opened, shaken, rattled, etc, the alarms will go off at 110db.

That's enough to scare anybody, especially at night in the dark.

If you have a little bit bigger of a budget and are looking for a higher-end security system for your car, this one may be more along the lines of what you're looking for.

5) Park in well-lit, high foot traffic areas

You can learn all about how to prevent people from breaking into a car, but even if you do everything else right, you do yourself no favors by parking your vehicle in a place that makes your vehicle susceptible to a break-in.

No matter where you go, always remember to park your vehicle in a well-lit, high foot traffic area where any suspicious activities around your vehicle would be noticeable and obvious.

Opportunists do not try to draw attention to themselves.

The more obvious their activities are, the less likely they are to engage in them.

6) Install a motion activated strobe light and audio alarm

Ok, it's time to have some fun.

I don't know about you, but personally I enjoy flipping the script sometimes and going on the offensive.

Tired of having your car broken into?

If you (like millions of other people) are trying to figure out how to catch people breaking into your car while they are in the act, and maybe scare the crap out of them in the process, then this method is for you.

You can protect your driveway and garage with this incredibly awesome motion-activated strobe light and alarm (you can get it here).

image of clown with white face paint and red nose; it's time to have some fun with would-be car prowlers
Let's have some fun, shall we?

Or, you can get an even more fun version.

How does that work, you ask? Well, it's simple.

You purchase a motion-activated audio device (get it here) that plays back a soundtrack or audio clip of your choosing. You also purchase the motion-activated strobe light that pulsates to the beat of the music that I mentioned above.

When you combine these two creative pieces of modern technology, the magic begins.

Example Scenario A

When someone walks up into your driveway to check your car doors in the middle of the night, your motion activated audio device will begin playing your incredibly tasteful music selection picked precisely for the occasion (danger zone by Kenny Loggins?), and the motion-activated strobe light will simultaneously start flashing to the beat of the song.

Don't worry, you can make it as loud and bright or as quiet as you like so as to not disturb (too many) neighbors.

Just promise that you'll also have the security camera system (see below) set up so that it's ALL caught on video.

(Thank you in advance.)

Example Scenario B

Alternatively, you can just record an audio recording like, "WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU DOING IN MY DRIVEWAY?!?" followed by some realistic sounds of a door opening or something.

Or maybe something completely random and conversational like a very calm, quiet recording of, "Hi.... you look like you're lost....".

That could be a little creepy at 2 AM in the morning in the pitch-black darkness. I'm guessing it would be enough to scare off any amateur car prowler hanging out in your driveway.

It could also just be the recorded sound of a really loud and aggressive dog barking.

Who knows. Get creative and have fun with it!

7) Get a home security system with wireless, nighttime cameras

Sometimes, even an opportunist can become desperate and determined despite the odds against them.

You can park your car in a well lit area, with high foot traffic.

You can put a sticker on your car indicating it's armed.

You can lock your doors and so on and so forth.

But sometimes, crime is just going to happen.

And when it does, you should be prepared to capture it on camera in the best light possible, with the best images and video possible.

Do not get cheap, useless camera's

In order to do that, you need to have a wireless, nighttime camera with infrared capabilities and a solid number of FPS (frames per second) so that your video is clear (not grainy) and fluid (not choppy).

There is nothing worse than finding out that a crime happened on your property, only to pull the recording of it and realize that the camera captured a blurry, choppy video that does the police absolutely no good.

A quick recap on how to prevent people from breaking into a car

If you wanted to know how to prevent people from breaking into a car, our list of 7 ideas is a great place to start!

To "harden the target" even more and have peace of mind that your home is as protected as possible, get this home defense checklist that was put together by a former Green Beret.

Here is a quick recap of the 7 recommendations that we detailed above:

  • Hide everything and anything of value from sight.

  • Lock everything (doors, glove boxes, car safes, and center consoles).

  • Tint your windows and use a sun-shade on your windshield.

  • Tell the world that your car has a security system of some kind (even if it doesn't).

  • Do NOT park in dark, or low-visibility areas.

  • Install some fun security equipment in your driveway.

  • Don't let the fish get away - get a quality home security system with cameras.

Last, but not least... Remember that you need to have reliable internet service at your property so that when your alarm or surveillance system needs to upload data or send off signals, there is little to no delay.

There's nothing worse than educating yourself on how to prevent people from breaking into a car, then capturing the moment on camera, only to find out that you lost it because your internet service was not able to upload the video, or it cut off half-way through.

What ideas have you used to prevent car break-ins?

Have you tried any of the methods that we recommended? If so, how have they worked so far? Do you have other creative methods for warding off car prowlers or deterring vehicle break-ins? Sound off in the comments below!