Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On-The-Road Theft Protection - How to Keep Your Classic Car or Muscle Car Safe While Traveling

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

Last week, we looked at security when we're at home. It's our sanctuary and a place we keep our most cherished items (classic car, muscle car, antique, street rod, vintage truck, or our project car of course). Even though more than one third of all car thefts occur from a home or residence, we're very vulnerable when we travel, especially when far from home on a road trip. But, bad things can happen even when on the road not all that far from home as well!

Keeping Your Classic Car Safe On Road Trips
When you're traveling, you'll need to change priorities a bit. You'll be out of your element and will need to have take reasonable precautions. How far from home and for how long will play a big part in the types of things you'll need to consider, and the steps you may need to take to maximize your safety strategies.

Some steps are obvious while others are easy to overlook when it comes to preventing car theft when you're away from home!

Prepare With Accurate, Up-To-Date Records

In addition to the maps, hotel reservations and activity list, make sure you take the time to prepare a list of information you might just need if you get into any trouble on the road. Make, model and VIN numbers are a good start. Adding identifying numbers of your engine, paint and interior colors, rim and tire information, and any other identifiers which are unique or can help identify your car should be listed. When you're in crisis mode, it's easy to forget to list obvious ones that can aid officials in locating your ride. The more information they have the better.

In addition to making sure you have a way of reaching your insurance company 24/7, you might also want to write contact information of your repair or restoration shop, and bring along photos of your car (front, side, rear). These can aid in getting bulletins out quickly. Jot down the e-mail address for Hemmings Daily so you can notify them of a theft by simply filling out a brief form (see link below). They've been instrumental in getting the word out, as we do, to fellow enthusiasts who can keep an eye out!

Make Sure You Have Adequate Classic Car Insurance

Make sure you've got active insurance in place. If not, take a look at purchasing a classic car insurance policy, and make sure that it is active before any long trip. Talk with an agent who can help advise about potential loop-holes in coverage. If you're considering a long trip or cruise, make sure that it will cover the mileage and the possibility you may be out of state. The cost is low compared to auto insurance for your modern daily driver, and it can mean the difference of losing your cherished ride forever, or the possibility of being able to begin again with another without losing your shirt. And remember, the use of deterrents and active anti-theft devices can save you money on your premiums. Read the full article on insurance in the resources link below, and don't procrastinate in getting it.

Use An Alarm System

Today's assortment of alarms can seem overwhelming, and we'll be covering them in detail in a future installment in this series of theft prevention articles. There are passive alarms that signal a monitoring device, those that will page you, those that sound an audible alarm, those that will activate hidden cameras, and those that will trigger active GPS monitoring. We will take a look at each of these in detail, but for now remember that all the theft deterrents and alarms in the world won't help keep your ride safe unless you actively use them. Remember to activate them whenever you're not in your car, and especially when you are away from home and/or on a road trip.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings - Take Care Where You Park

The point here is to be aware of your surroundings, including where you park your car. Don't take it for granted that just because you're at a national show or event with fellow enthusiasts or on a popular cruise or road trip that something bad can't happen. Take preventive action by checking out your intended destination and taking the time to secure your old car or truck while on the road.

Guy Algar states, "Don't forget to take precautions even during short trips or visits to popular places. You may feel safe parking your ride because you've been there before or know people where you're going, but remember, that thieves can take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, and will sometimes create their own opportunities as well! They can follow you from a cruise, a show, an event or even from a restaurant and plan a theft after watching you entering your hotel. If you have a ride that catches other people's attention, remember that it will also catch the wrong attention!" Keep these things in mind:

  • 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 unattended parking lots. Parking garages are 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.
  • Check on your vehicle regularly.
  • Never leave a spare set of keys in the car.
  • Don't leave hotel keys in car.
  • Don't leave travel plans, maps, hotel or travel pamphlets in plain sight.
  • Do not leave personal items and baggage in plain sight whenever possible.
  • Remove your GPS device or hide it.
  • 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.

Use All Your Self Deterrents

Don't forget the basics in theft prevention. We'll take a closer look at each of these, and many more, in upcoming weeks:
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Use hood locks.
  • Use steering wheel and/or brake locks.
  • Use a kill switch.
  • Disconnect the car's battery.
  • Use a fuel cut-off switch.
  • Remove the Distributor Cap and/or Ignition Rotor.
  • Remove Fuel Pump Fuse.

Guy and I realize that the safety of your classic car or muscle car is extremely important to most owners. Everyone wants to protect their ride with methods that work, and that won't bust the bank. Guy Algar was an Installation Technician for LoJack at one point in his career, and served as a troubleshooter for difficult installations. A complete list of links for Theft Prevention and Theft Protection will appear in my upcoming article. Have a story you'd like to share? Leave a comment and we may publish your story! - Andrea L. Algar

Classic Car News - Identifying The Potential Classic Car Thief - Know Who Your Friends Are
Classic Car News - How & Where To Park Your Classic or Muscle Car To Minimize The Threat of Theft
Classic Car News - Purchasing Classic Car Insurance - Why You Don't Want To Procrastinate!
Hemmings - Hemmings Daily Blog Report a Theft Form
No Nonsense Self Defense - Car Theft Prevention

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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