Car smarts: How to protect your car and its contents from theft

by Julie Cole Miller

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto thefts are a continued concern nationwide—and not just the contents inside the cars, but the cars themselves. The NHTSA reports that in 2022 “more than one million vehicles were stolen in the United States—and about half of those thefts were due to driver error.”

UAB continues to invest in people and technology, with 6,400 cameras across campus and more than 100 officers to prevent and respond to incidents. UAB Police & Public Safety also works to educate the community about ways people can help maintain a secure environment.

“You’d be surprised how many people leave their cars unlocked and leave personal items visible,” said Corporal Kimani George, UAB Police crime prevention manager. “If everyone would follow some simple safety tips, it would help us cut down on crime and protect their valuables.”

Whether thieves are looking for a certain make or model that they know how to hack or are simply trying door handles and breaking windows to gain access, there are several habits to keep in mind as police continue to work to deter theft.

  • Close windows and sunroof. Lock your car.
  • Keep personal property and valuables such as wallets and phones out of sight.
  • Seek out highly visible parking spots near cameras and under lights.
  • Never leave your engine running unattended.
  • Use a steering wheel lock, particularly if you have one of the four most targeted vehicles: Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Kia and Hyundai.
  • If you see something, say something. Install the Rave Guardian app on your phone to alert UAB Police, submit tips, set safety timers and more.

“We encourage employees, students and visitors on our campus to report suspicious activities, such as vehicles driving on campus that don’t have a car tag or that have a temporary or dealer tag,” said Lieutenant Steven Gladden, a UAB Police Officer. “Also, don’t make it easy for a thief. Be sure to protect your property at all times.”

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