Preventing Classic Car Theft: Tips for Keeping Your Customers’ Cars Safe

Dec 21, 2010

Classic cars are not only your customers’ prized possessions, but they also represent a significant investment in time and money. As a builder, it’s your job to help them find ways to protect their investments, while also adding to your own bottom line. With classic car theft rising in certain parts of the country, the need for anti-theft products has never been greater.

“Crime is a reality,” said Carol Watson of Watson’s StreetWorks in Bozrah, Connecticut, who reported that her company is selling an increasing number of security products to its customers. “With the amount of money invested in these vehicles, builders can provide a value-added service to their clients by recommending they protect their investment against theft with a security system-”inexpensive insurance for peace of mind.”

“Stealing classic cars is most often a very targeted form of theft,” said Ted Saraf, the Law Enforcement Liaison for Westwood, Massachusetts-based LoJack Corp. “Cars are often stolen to order. A buyer specifies a make/model and the thief targets and steals that particular vehicle. This form of theft can also be quite dangerous, with thieves actually entering a car owner’s home or garage. In many cases, professional thieves identify a specific car to steal, roll it out of the garage or storage facility, place it on a trailer and haul the car away.”

While all thieves can’t be thwarted, a multi-tiered approach is the best way to minimize the risk of theft. The first step is prevention.

“The simplest product we offer is a relay, which when coupled with a hidden switch, can be wired as a theft deterrent to prevent the starter from turning over,” explained Watson, who also offers a latching Battery Disconnect with five different triggering options that simply turns off the battery. “When activated, our Road Kill Anti-Theft Timed Ignition Shut-off allows the car to start and run for just 10 seconds until it stops dead. Then the vehicle horn or an alarm horn (not part of the kit) goes off letting the world know something is awry, thwarting the thief’s getaway.”

“The newest security product in our arsenal against automotive theft is the Hot Dot Ignition Link,” added Watson. “The Ignition Link Relay works with our Hot Dot Ignition Button and two-function Gemini remote control. Push one remote control button to enable the Hot Dot Ignition button to function. Push the second remote control button to disable the Hot Dot Ignition button. The link takes the place of a key lock to secure the vehicle’s ignition all from the portability of a remote control transmitter. Because of the universal nature of all the products, almost any vehicle can benefit from an added measure of security.”

Thieves are often professionals who can disengage anti-theft devices such as alarms and kill switches. To stop the professional thief, LoJack now offers LoJack for Classics, a stolen vehicle recovery system that’s specially designed to meet the unique requirements of classic cars, hot rods, street rods and muscle cars.

“The system leverages LoJack’s newly released next-generation, self-powered stolen vehicle recovery technology, which offers several advantages that make it ideally suited to these vehicles,” said Saraf, who added that the system is available for any classic, antique or other custom car with a model year of 1985 or older.

“One key benefit is that the self-powered LoJack for Classics does not draw energy from a vehicle’s battery, and, as such, does not need to be connected to the vehicle’s electrical system,” he said. “This covert system can be hidden in one of a variety of locations, specified by the vehicle owner. LoJack for Classics uses the company’s proven radio frequency technology, is directly integrated with police and is highly covert.”

A multi-tiered approach combining common sense, theft prevention devices and track/recovery systems is the best route.

“The first important step is to use common-sense measures,” said Saraf. “For example, never leave your keys in the car with the engine running. Don’t hide a spare key in the vehicle. Close all windows and lock all doors when leaving your vehicle. As a second step, use theft-prevention devices. A thief is less inclined to steal your car if it has visible and audible warning devices like a wheel lock or alarm system.”

Watson agreed. “Make it difficult to get away with stealing your ride,” she said. “The ticking clock is the enemy of thieves and they’ll be more likely to give up and move on if a simple security product impedes their usual finesse. Then, don’t brag to your buddies about your new hidden ignition switch while you’re in line at the burger joint so anyone within earshot can get the skinny on how your automotive money pit starts. It should be obvious that installing a security system is a step in the right direction.”

Sometimes you just can’t prevent the theft, so finding your car becomes the priority.

“Professionals can outsmart most of these devices, but it will help ward off the more amateur thieves,” Saraf said. “The third step, tracking and recovery systems, provides the peace of mind that you’ll get your vehicle back, often quickly, in the event it is stolen.”