Drivers tend to use their cars for much more than driving. Cars are often used as mobile fast food booths, hiding places, shelters from the elements, and—for the daring and less discriminating—as a place to sleep. Because your rental car will be a sort of home away from home when you're traveling, you'll want to take a few simple precautions to protect it and the valuables you leave inside of it. In a perfect world you wouldn't leave anything of value inside your rental car, but the reality of traveling is that cars often serve as a safe deposit box or mobile luggage storage closet, especially when you're in-between hotels. Keep reading for nine tips for helping you protect your car and everything in it.
Load and Hide Your Stuff Before Reaching Your Destination
Everything you plan to leave in your rental car should already be stowed and hidden before you even leave the rental lot. Pulling into your parking spot and removing items of value lets everyone in view know exactly where you keep the goods. Your best bet is to do this step before you even start up your rental car.
"Unload" Your Stuff Away from Your Parking Space
As with the first step, if returning to a parking area, it's a good idea to have your valuables easily accessible before you get out of the car. Always taking valuable goods from the same place broadcasts to potential thieves that you're an easy target.
Choose Your Parking Space Wisely
When choosing your parking spot, you need to do what our friends in the military call "making yourself a hard target." Choose places with easy sight lines; in the case of rental cars, "out of sight" means "out of safety."
• In airport lots, park either within view of exit toll booths, parking offices, or courtesy shuttle pickup locations or kiosks. And always make sure to park in as well lit an area as possible.
• Park "trunk-out." This makes it harder for thieves to hide themselves when breaking into your car.
• If you have to park on the street, try to park under a street lamp or in easy view of a busy area, like a bustling shopping center, and avoid things that might provide shelter or cover to a thief. The busier the street, the better.
When in Doubt, Use a Parking Garage
The internal lighting and crowded nature of parking garages make them safer for parking your independent rental car than the street. As with any of your parking options, however, make sure to remove or secure any valuable items (such as GPS devices, cell phone accessories, or personal items).
Self-Park When You Can
Most valet parking lots or garages are safe, but if made too easy, the temptation to steal can be too great for some valet parking attendants to avoid.
Assume Thieves Want to Steal Your Rental Car Outright
Most thieves will try to steal a car rather than just breaking in, taking all valuables inside with them. The items can be removed and the car dumped, though there is a market for certain "hot" cars, too. For this reason, making your car appear less inviting will encourage a potential thief to skip your car.
A Neat Car Is Less Likely to Be Burglarized
Messy cars full of stuff that appears to be hiding valuable items can be very inviting. On the other hand, however, if a potential thief only sees upholstery, chances are pretty good that they'll move on to the next car.
Check for Valuables When You Return
If you have any suspicions, check your car right away. This will help you in the event you need to file a police report. For example, one popular tactic is to take cameras from camera bags, leaving you none the wiser that you were stolen from.
• Rent cars that are not easily exposed or broken into, and that have a large enough trunk to store things you need to be secured.
• The more generic the model is, the less attention it is likely to attract.
• Don't leave your rental contract in your rental car; this document contains all of the information you will need if the car does get stolen.
Remember: as a rental car driver, making yourself a hard target will drastically reduce your chances of falling victim to theft.
Rental car safety begins long before your drive off the lot. Protect yourself from hidden costs and unnecessary fees by using the CRX car rental comparison search tool now!