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Auto Theft Prevention Tips


Motor vehicles are an indispensable part of our lives and are used for many reasons.  They serve as the primary mode of transportation for many people, whether going to work, school, or the store.  If your vehicle were to suddenly disappear – now what?

Auto theft occurs anytime at any place.  Auto theft happens fast.  An experienced auto thief can break into and steal a car in less than a minute.  An unoccupied car, with its engine running, can be taken in seconds.  Many auto thefts are ‘crimes of opportunity.’  If you eliminate the opportunity, you reduce your risk.

Auto theft prevention starts with you.   By following these steps you can minimize your chances of becoming a victim of auto theft.  And, you may be eligible for insurance premium discounts.

Auto Theft Prevention Tips

  • Never leave your vehicle running unattended (leaving your vehicle unoccupied with the engine running invites thieves)
  • Never leave any keys in your vehicle or in the ignition, even inside a locked garage
  • Always lock your doors and close your windows, even if parked in front of your home or inside a garage
  • If you must leave valuables in your car, make an extra stop before arriving at your destination to lock valuables in your trunk
  • Remove all add-on electronic devices, chargers, and portable mounts when you leave your vehicle  
  • Park in well-lit areas or in areas visible to pedestrian and vehicle traffic
  • Use your emergency brake when you park.
  • Never leave personal identification documents, vehicle ownership title, or credit cards in your vehicle
  • Memorize your license plate number and vehicle information (make, model, year, color)
  • Take photos of your vehicle, license plate, and vehicle identification number (VIN) with your mobile phone
  • Be wary when parking in places like movie theaters, gyms, or churches – thieves know how long you’ll be gone
  • Leave only the ignition key if you must leave your key with a valet, attendant, or mechanic
  • When parking your vehicle, turn your wheels toward the curb to make it more difficult for a thief to "tow" your car
  • Completely close windows when parking 
  • If you have an alarm, use it

Preventing Auto Theft While Driving

  • Keep your doors locked, no matter how short the drive or how "safe" the neighborhood
  • When coming to a stop, leave enough space to maneuver around other cars
  • Think twice and take the time to call 9-1-1 before stopping to assist a stranger
  • Always know your location
    • Remember what road you are on and be aware of cross streets and mile markers

More Auto Theft Prevention Tips

  • Consider the purchase of a vehicle theft tracking/security system
  • Replace "T-shaped" door locks with straight locks so thieves cannot grab them
  • Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column, or brakes as these devices may deter criminals
  • Check with your insurance company.  You may be eligible for insurance premium discounts if you follow these steps

Theft from Auto

Sometimes thieves take valuables from your vehicle, but do not steal your vehicle.  This is called theft from auto.  Learn how to prevent theft from auto.

Think before you leave your car.  These actions attract thieves and can increase your risk of auto theft:

  • Leaving a vehicle unlocked and/or the windows down (even in a garage)
  • Leaving keys in the vehicle or a spare key hidden on the vehicle
  • Leaving a vehicle running unattended
  • Parking in poorly lit places with low visibility
  • Leaving valuables and packages in a vehicle


Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
Minnesota's First Law Enforcement Agency - Established 1849

Sheriff Matt Bostrom