Are you scared of car theft? Buy a vehicle with a manual transmission! It’s guaranteed to not only be a natural deterrent, but you’ll also get a good laugh out of it as well, especially if you catch an attempt on video.
People across the country are getting a chuckle of satisfaction when carjackers and thieves try to steal a car, only to find out they can’t drive it. Of course, it’s really not a laughing matter when someone tries to steal from you, especially when it can become dangerous; but the outcome is entertaining after the fact when no one has been hurt except the would-be-thieves’ ego.
The stories pepper the internet—three teenagers in Seattle try to steal a stick shift car from a 70-year-old woman…foiled! Would-be carjackers in Denver are stumped by a stick shift car!
Another one, only a month ago, happened in Semmes, Alabama, when a man left his manual Honda Civic running while he ran into a convenience store (we recommend you don’t do that). A truck with four men pulled up alongside and two of them tried to steal it, but get put in FOX10 News’ “Dumb Criminal File” when they fail and the owner catches them, recording their friends trying to leave the scene and getting their license plate and faces on video.
The story took an ironic turn when investigators discovered the man driving the truck had been involved in a failed convenience store robbery earlier in the day. You just can’t make this stuff up. The moral of the story seems to be: buy a manual transmission vehicle for the fun, keep it to drive car thieves crazy.
Holidays are Popular for Stealing Cars
Car thieves know that on holidays, when cars are filling the driveway and lining the street around noon or 5 p.m., that the family has gathered for a holiday meal and are probably not paying much attention to anything else. If they’ve gotten lucky, someone forgot to lock their car. If they have poor luck, that car has a manual transmission. Video of the event, from the car’s perspective, would probably be entertaining.
Are you wondering where the different holidays rank when it comes to someone trying to boost your car? The National Crime Information Center database from 2017, using 2016 data, no longer backs up the notion that ghosts steal cars on Halloween.
The most cars are now stolen on January 1st, while you are either sipping the bubbly, kissing someone under the mistletoe, or happily snoozing in bed. 2,469 auto thefts were reported on that day in 2016, toppling Halloween down to third place. Second place went to Presidents Day, possibly due to high levels of tourism.
The rest of the list, in order, was: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day (which seems appropriate, if you are a car thief), New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Tips to Prevent Car Theft
There are a lot of tips for preventing car theft and some are eye-rolling-ly obvious, but still necessary because, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2015 data, thieves stole cars with the key inside 57,096 times, or once every 6.5 minutes. That was up 22 percent from the year before and 31 percent over the prior three years.
Those common-sense tips include: always lock your car, invest in a car alarm and use it, and never leave the car unlocked and running while unattended. To protect your home in case your car is stolen: never leave the garage door opener in the car, take a picture of your car registration and leave the original at home, and do not leave anything with personal information inside your car.
Other tips for keeping your car safe from theft include:
Don’t leave a spare key in/on your vehicle: It’s commonplace for a spare key to be kept in the glove box or in a magnetic box somewhere on the underside of your vehicle. Thieves know this and use it to their advantage.
Close the windows: Leaving windows open gives a thief an invitation to come steal it, or whatever there is of interest inside.
Leave valuables at home: Don’t leave anything of value in your car and if you can’t avoid it, keep it out of sight by putting it in your trunk or pulling the screen in the trunk area closed. Do this before you reach your destination. If you wait until you get there, someone may be watching and see what you move there, so you haven’t removed the temptation after all.
Park in well-lit areas: The more light there is, the less chance of someone slinking along, breaking into–or stealing–cars. Why? People can see them more easily and cameras on buildings can get much better images than in poor lighting. Even better if it’s well-lit with a decent amount of traffic going past.
Install an audible alarm, a visible anti-theft device, and a vehicle immobilizer system: Thieves don’t like loud noises that draw attention to them, and a visible device, such as a steering wheel lock or a flashing light can have a would-be thief going on to the next car. An immobilizer shuts the car down if someone hotwires it and tries to drive away without the necessary wireless identification. At the very least, a fake alarm system with a blinking light can serve as a deterrent.
Install a tracking system: You can also choose to install a tracking system that allows local police to track and recover your vehicle if it is successfully stolen.
Stay alert: This is the most important thing you can do to not only keep your car safe, but to keep yourself safe as well. Pay attention to your surroundings when you are parking as well as anyone who is loitering nearby. If it doesn’t feel right, or safe, to you, then leave and find somewhere else to park.
A few unconventional suggestions from DrivingLine.com to prevent car theft: Don’t drive something people want to steal, such as the Honda Civic, the most stolen vehicle in America, according to the NICB; put the family stick figures on the back window; leave something scary in your car; and buy a vehicle with a manual transmission.
The Case for Buying Manual
There are some sound reasons for buying vehicles with a manual transmission, in addition to them being more thief-proof. Those are: they generally cost less than an automatic; repairs to a manual transmission can be less costly assuming there is not extensive damage to hard parts; they get better gas mileage than most automatics if driven correctly, and; they’re fun! Drivers who like manual transmissions prefer the old school way of driving and say they feel more in control. Learning how to drive stick shift is easy and just takes a bit of practice. Even if you own a vehicle with an automatic transmission, we highly recommend everyone learn how to drive a manual transmission should the need suddenly pop up.
Come in for a Transmission Inspection
No matter what type of transmission you have, bring it into Advanced Transmission for our free TrueTest Inspection. We want to make sure your transmission is in tip-top shape for the upcoming driving season! Remember, regular transmission maintenance is just as critical as an oil change. Plus the clutch in a manual transmission is designed to wear and needs to be replaced similar to brake pads. Driving with an old clutch can be dangerous and cause accelerated wear to a transmission. Learn more about our manual/standard transmission repairs here.