As we’ve mentioned recently, car and truck thefts are rising nationwide. Among the vehicles most frequently stolen are full-size pickups like the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ford F-150. Let’s look at how to prevent thieves from stealing these popular vehicles.
Why Are Pickup Truck Thefts So Common?
What is it about these full-size trucks that makes them such a popular target for thieves? The answer is, as expected, simple: It’s easy for a thief to sell the parts from these vehicles. The Vortec engine in Silverados and Sierras is in high demand. Vortec is the name that General Motors assigned to the LS-based engines in its trucks. If a hobbyist wants a serious horsepower upgrade with outstanding aftermarket parts support for their Porsche, Mustang, Miata or BMW, the General Motors LS-based engines are the go-to.
Beyond the engine, almost every part of these pickup trucks is in high demand. A bed that’s in good shape can fetch several thousand dollars. Even fenders, bumpers and grilles are highly profitable. Headlight assemblies and airbags can easily cost hundreds of dollars from the dealership. In an era when vehicle owners are trying to get the most life possible out of their investment, the value of used parts is at an all-time high.
Truck Thefts – New vs. Old
While thefts of high-end vehicles like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are widespread, trucks easily surpass them as the most popular targets. Older trucks, before 2007, had almost no anti-theft technologies, making them easier to steal. At the other end of the spectrum, newer vehicles with systems like OnStar have become targets as thieves have learned how to hack into them.
You can do five things to help prevent your Chevrolet, Ford or GMC pickup truck from being stolen.
1. Park Your Vehicle in Your Garage
The easiest way to protect your vehicle is to make it hard for thieves to gain access to it in the first place. If you have a garage at home, park your truck in it. If you have a second vehicle, park it behind the truck. Thieves are unlikely to want to move one vehicle to steal another. If your garage is full of bicycles, a lawn mower and other items, consider investing in a small shed for the backyard.
2. Have a Security System Installed
Thieves focusing on a specific vehicle have likely already stolen several before reaching yours. As such, they will use a process that allows them to work efficiently. If you install an aftermarket security system, the methods they typically use won’t work on your vehicle. When their plan doesn’t work, odds are they’ll move on to another target.
Make sure the security system you choose has a starter-kill circuit. The starter-kill circuit will prevent typical vehicle starting methods from working. You’ll also want to ensure that the system monitors all the doors so the alarm will go off if they’re opened. Finally, make sure the system has a security sensor that detects impacts, motion or vehicle tilting. A thief might be after your truck’s wheels or a catalytic converter. A high-quality sensor will trigger the alarm to protect your pride and joy.
3. Install a Vehicle Tracking System
While a security system or car alarm is an excellent way of preventing someone from driving your vehicle away, if the thieves are going to drag the truck onto a flatbed, those pieces of technology can’t do anything other than call attention to themselves. In these instances, a GPS-enabled tracking system is your best bet for getting your truck back quickly.
Vehicle remote control and tracking systems like Drone from Firstech can operate independently or integrate with a keyless entry system, car alarm or even a remote car starter. You can use the DroneMobile app on your smartphone or log into the Drone website on any internet browser to find your vehicle’s location almost instantly. You can share this information with local law enforcement to help them retrieve your vehicle and hopefully put the thieves behind bars.
A secondary benefit of Drone is that you can set geofences and time-based alerts. A geofence will send an alert to your phone and smartwatch if the vehicle enters or exits in a predefined area. You can set a perimeter around your house, so even if the thieves start your vehicle with the keys, the system will let you know when it leaves that area. Features like the curfew alert let you know if the vehicle is started during a specific time. You could set the curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., and you’ll get an instant notification if the engine starts during that period.
If you have Drone and an alarm or car starter with a security sensor, alerts will be relayed to your phone and smartwatch.
4. Hide Your Keys
Many modern thieves use what’s called a relay attack to use your vehicle’s keys to unlock it. The process involves someone coming to your front door with a transmitter and a second person beside your vehicle. If the thief at the door can pick up a signal from the keyless entry fob on your keychain, they can transmit that signal to the person by the vehicle. All they have to do is press the unlock button on the door handle, and they’re in. One second later, the thief can press the start button on the dash, and they’re off. Once your vehicle makes it to their shop, they can program new keys, and the truck will likely never be seen again.
There are two easy ways to eliminate the chances of a relay theft. First, keep your keys away from the front of your home. Your best bet is to take them upstairs to your bedroom at night. A second option is investing in a key storage container with RF shielding. These key boxes are sometimes called Faraday cages, boxes or pouches. If you purchase one of these items, be sure to test it. Put your key fob in the box, then take the box to the vehicle and try to open the door by pressing the button on the handle.
If you’re on a budget, you can line a box with a layer or two of tinfoil. Make sure you do all six sides and close it once your keys are in it for the night.
5. Keep Your Vehicle Secure
It should be no surprise to hear this, but be sure to lock your vehicle at all times. You’d be surprised how often thieves walk around neighborhoods late at night, checking to see if car and truck doors are unlocked. While they’ll typically just rummage through the center console or glove box, looking for items to steal, the opportunity to try to take the entire vehicle is tempting.
A keyless entry or security system with a two-way remote is a good investment. A two-way remote lets you know for sure that your vehicle is locked.
Another top tip to prevent vehicle theft is to always keep your keys with you when you’re at a gas station. When you stop for gas, it’s tempting to leave your keys in the ignition or center console. However, a thief can easily steal your vehicle when your back is turned or you’ve entered the station to buy a snack.
Protect Your Investment
Sadly, car and truck theft seems to be a way of life these days. With some simple steps and an investment in technology, you can keep your Silverado, Sierra or F-150 safe from thieves and vandals. Drop by a local specialty mobile enhancement retailer today to learn about the options available to protect your vehicle.