Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How & Where To Park Your Classic Car or Muscle Car In Order To Minimize The Threat of Theft

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

We've heard that thefts are on the rise for muscle cars, classic cars and even old trucks. How and where you park your classic car can help minimize the risk of having it stolen, having parts taken off of it, or even of having it targeted for future theft. Whether you're at home, away from home, or storing your vehicle for an extended period, there are steps you'll want to take to help keep it safe. Theft prevention is key.

Indoor Parking Garage
Precaution rules the day here. Many interventions you take are common sense, but in the haste of our busy schedules  it's easy to make exceptions and put our vehicles at unnecessary risk. If you're away from home and enjoying time out in your classic, the last thing you want to find is a vacant parking space when you return to your vehicle. Danger also lurks at home where you tend to feel safe, and no owner wants to find an empty garage spot where their cherished ride once sat.

Becoming a victim of theft does not always mean disappearance of the vehicle. Guy recalls what happened to a customer, "He and his wife had gone out to dinner at a nice restaurant. They had taken their 1969 Corvette, parked under a big bright light in the parking lot, in what appeared to be a safe area. When they came out about 45 minutes later he found that all the trim and emblems had been taken right off the car! Obviously, although upset, he was relieved that the car was still there." This is something we're all in fear of.

While many thefts occur when vehicles are parked on the street or even on the owner's own property, logic would say that this is because you tend to park in these spots most often. Police data, however, reveals that based on per-hour-parked statistics, your classic car or muscle car may be at even greater risk when parked at a parking facility. They are often unmanned or poorly patrolled, poorly lit with lots of blind spots and have plenty of places where a thief can effectively hide. Low foot traffic aides in giving a thief the time needed to execute the theft of vehicles, even those with alarms and other deterrents.

But it does make a difference what type of parking facility you choose! Why? It turns out that parking garages are much safer than outdoor parking lots. In fact, reports show that there is five times greater risk of your car being stolen from an unattended lot than from either on-street parking or when parking in a parking garage or in an attended lot. Unmanned outdoor lots that utilize a self-pay system have little or no security or deterrents of any kind. They're often easily accessed and have very light foot traffic. At night you're particularly vulnerable.
What can you do to improve your odds? First, never take it for granted that because you're in a well lit area you'll be okay, or that if you're with fellow enthusiasts it's less likely something bad will happen. Bottom line, be prepared, take precautions and be proactive in securing your vehicle at all times!

Choosing Where To Park Your Classic Car:

  • Never park behind buildings. This tends to provide cover for thieves.
  • If you can, park in plain sight of windows, doors, and areas with good foot traffic.
  • Do not park next to thick bushes or shrubbery.
  • Do not park next to alcoves, walls and areas where a person can hide. 
  • Avoid extremely remote areas.
  • Avoid parking lots, especially unattended ones. Parking garages tend to be safer choices.
  • Select parking garages that are fenced in and secure. Preferably with good visibility into the lot.
  • When parking on the street, select busy well-lit areas.
  • Be especially cautious at night, which is a thief's preferred time.
  • If you're looking at long-term storage, select location carefully and have a way of checking on your vehicle regularly.

Parking Your Classic Car While Away From Home:

  • Make sure all doors are locked.
  • Close and lock all windows.
  • Do not leave keys in your car.
  • Do not leave your home's garage door opener, house keys, or other items in the car.
  • Remove your GPS device if possible (you don't want it showing a thief the way to your home).
  • Never hide keys in/or about your car.
  • Never leave your title in the vehicle.
  • Never move valuables after you've arrived.
  • Don't park in two spaces. This only brings attention to your car.
  • Arm your car with your anti-theft measures and your multi-layered security system.

Securing Your Classic Car In Your Own Garage:

  • Lock your car! Doors and windows. This simple, very basic step is often overlooked because you're in the safety of your own home. It is often just seconds or minutes that separate a successful car theft from a foiled attempt, so everything you can throw at the thief is a good step in the direction of theft prevention.
  • Keep your garage window shades or blinds closed.
  • Cover your car. Not only will this help to keep your classic clean, but it will help keep it hidden when you do have your garage door open. Purchase and use a cover designed for outdoor weather if you're parking your car outdoors in your driveway.
  • Never leave your keys in the ignition. Again, a lot of people keep car keys in the open because they feel it is safe in their own garage. Store your keys in a separate area.
  • Consider cameras which can monitor and record any activity.
  • Arm your car with your anti-theft measures and your multi-layered security system - even, and especially, while at home!

Next we'll take a look at At-Home Theft Prevention. We hope you'll our series on theft prevention for classic car and muscle car owners.

RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Manitowoc website - How to Prevent Theft From Your Vehicle
Pittsburgh Police - Types of Car Theft
U.S. Dept of Justice - Theft of and from cars in parking facilities

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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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