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Vehicle Security

Vehicle security starts with common sense. In my research of robbers and what they look for, the message is consistent: It’s things in plain view, preferably in an unlocked vehicle. Therefore, the easiest, simplest thing you can do to immediately reduce your chances of being a victim is to lock your doors—always—and never leave anything in plain sight.

The photo was taken by me, and I have many more like it. On the seat you can see an open purse and cash, possibly a FitBit or some other device, charging cable, and more — all in plain view. This is simply inviting trouble.

Start putting this into practice immediately: lock your doors and don’t leave anything in sight in the vehicle. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled or misled by thinking “Oh I’m just running into the store real quick: or “I’m just going to be a few minutes.” Doesn’t matter. It takes just seconds to get into your vehicle and steal things. And if it’s a laptop, a smart phone or tablet, a purse or wallet, you’re asking for trouble. Take a moment and lock your valuables in the trunk. If you have an SUV, many SUVs have a hideaway compartment in the rear of the vehicle. You can also hide valuables underneath the seat.

Some other tips for vehicle safety:

- Fill your gas tank whenever it approaches 1/2 full. Running out of gas in the wrong area has happened to many people. Don’t let it happen to you.

- Keep your tires properly inflated. Most vehicles post their recommended tire pressures on the inside of the driver’s-side door and in the owner’s manual. Properly inflated tires ensure the best emergency handling of your vehicle.

- Check the vehicle before entering, including the rear seats and floors.

- Park in well-lighted areas at night. If you must leave work late and you’re uneasy about walking to your vehicle at night, ask someone to escort you or call the police non-emergency number to request assistance. Don’t feel silly doing this; your intuition and gut feelings are important and are designed to help keep you safe.

- Never pick up hitchhikers.

- Never get in an Uber or Lyft if there’s a person already in the vehicle. Ride share services do not allow “ride-alongs.”

- Avoid road rage. Many of us get angry over real or perceived slights on the road. Forget it. It’s not worth the outcomes, none of which are going to be good for you.

- Have your keys out, in hand, well before you approach your vehicle. Use the remote unlock/lock feature. Members of our family have been aggressively followed and stalked while leaving a mall and heading to the vehicle. Having the keys out and unlocking the vehicle well in advance allowed them to get to the vehicle, get inside, and lock the doors just before the aggressor got to them. This practice works; incorporate it into your routine.

- Note the location of your vehicle whenever you park it. This is especially important in parking garages at airports and other locations, large parking lots, and so forth, because it helps you avoid walking around in higher-danger areas looking for your car. One useful practice that I use all the time is to use your smart phone to take a picture of the nearest parking lot area marker sign.

- If you are pulled over by police, turn on your interior lights, roll your windows down, turn off the radio, turn off the vehicle, place your hands on the steering wheel, and remain calm. Don’t be hunting around in the vehicle for your license and registration or otherwise making a lot of movement. Police will recognize and respect that you did this, because their first concern in any traffic stop is their safety and yours, and routine traffic stops are some of the most dangerous things that law enforcement officers have to do. Respect them and their job and acknowledge it by doing this, and you’ll be helping yourself, too.

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