Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Preventing Classic Car Theft: The Big Picture

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

With classic car and muscle car thefts on the rise, car theft protection is more in demand than ever before. We all know that it's a risk when we take our prized cars out into public places, and it can even be risky parking in our own driveways and garages! But, many classic car owners are confused over the array of systems out there. Many do not want to do anything to diminish the value of an "all original" vehicle. So, what can you do?

You've probably read the stories on recent thefts. We had reported on a ProStreet Camaro stolen at a hotel near the car show the owner was attending for the weekend, and a fully restored 1954 GMC Pickup truck stolen right out of the owner's driveway. We also reported on a local car jacking. And, just as I was putting the final touches on this article, new a stolen car alert came out of Fort Worth where a 1937 Buick went missing from a gated townhouse community, and news of Dr. Phil's '55 Chevy Belair convertible being stolen from the shop he had taken it to for repairs! Owners have good reason to be concerned.

You may have already read or heard that Guy Algar and I, through Classic Car News, have launched a new series "Keeping Our Rides Safe". Each week we look at a different ways you can keep your classic car or muscle car out of the hands of would-be thieves! This is the first in the series, and will begin with an overview, an we'll take a closer look at each in more detail each week.

The very best protection is to stay ahead of the curve and put a multi-layer security system in place. By having more anti-theft measures in your arsenal, you make it "not worth the effort". And, you want to use these protection methods all the time - whether you are at home or on the road. With this in mind, we want to create a system that contains items from each of these categories of theft prevention and theft protection:

Know Who Your Friends Are

I can't wait for this article! Many of you would be surprised to learn that many theft victims have actually bumped into the person who stole their car!

How & Where You Store/Park/Garage Your Car

Some owners have their own garage where they feel safe. Others park in a driveway, while still others must park on-street, or even at a storage facility. We'll look at the safety of each, and steps you can take to maximize its safety.

At-Home Theft Prevention

In addition to home alarm systems if you're lucky enough to have a garage, these steps will include many common-sense but easily overlooked practices that you'll want to get into the habit of doing every day.

On-the-road Theft Prevention

Classic cars, hot rods, street rods and muscle cars are especially vulnerable when on the road. Because they're collectibles that others view as valuable, you're at risk of having parts, trim pieces or the entire car stolen in a flash.

Insurance Protection

Make sure that you have adequate insurance for your ride. We've reported in the past on all the benefits of having classic car insurance, and some of the typical options. We'll go into more detail in a future article.

Do-it-Yourself Theft Deterrents

This is a great category because it tends to include a lot of things you can do yourself at no cost or very low cost. It includes battery disconnect and so much more.


Audio alarms, visual alarms, dispatch alarms, pager alarms and more will be discussed, along with lists and links of products.


Hood locks are just the start. Steering wheels, brake pedals, wheel locks and more offer protections that can slow a thief down. But what are the best? We'll take a close look and provide resources.

Car Theft Systems

There are many types of systems out there that are much more sophisticated than simple alarms that can be deactivated by ripping out a wire. Manufacturers are making it difficult, and we've got tips from some experts in having them installed the right way!

Cameras / Video

Hidden cameras can activate a paging device, provide a live feed, and/or record theft for use by police. Many are so small they're virtually undetectable. We'll look at a wide range that are available.

Tracking & Recovery Systems

GPS Tracking devices are offered by companies such as LoJack, OnStar, and others, and newer options include very sophisticated recovery system options.

As you can see, there is a lot to cover. Guy and I hope you check back each Wednesday for an article that will cover each of these topics and more. Our hope is to provide you with accurate, timely information that will help in Keeping Our Rides Safe.

If you have a story you'd like to share on a theft you've experienced, please take a moment to comment.
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.
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