Tips on minimizing car break-ins in traffic

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer October 10,2018

A good car tint deters robbers but does not alienate traffic enforcers.

There has been a series of viral videos on social media showing people attempting to open doors of cars while stuck in traffic.

We need to lessen the risk of these incidents happening to us. Consider some of these basic easy-to-follow tips to help maintain your safety and security.

1. Always lock your doors.

Before driving off, always lock your doors. If your car doesn’t have central locking, consider investing in one, together with a car alarm for added security.

2. Hide your personal effects.

If your personal effects are in plain view, that makes you a more attractive target for robbers.

Keep your personal effects in the boot/trunk, or hide them in your glove box or center console.

You may also keep them underneath the seats, or at the passenger footwell where it is harder to be seen and reached.

3. Tint is a must.

While the government is trying to regulate tints, a medium tint all around and a light tint on the windshield will deter prying eyes trying to survey what’s inside your vehicle without affecting your driving visibility.

This should also still allow law enforcement personnel to see you if they look thoroughly.

Thieves will always take the path of least resistance, so if they can’t easily see inside your car. Even if you are alone and have valuables, they won’t bother you.

Many tints also provide a level of protection against smash-and-grab thieves who attempt to break your windows to steal the personal effects inside your car.

4. Roll up your windows.

Don’t smoke. Keep your windows rolled up, and don’t open them for beggars as oftentimes, this is a modus operandi to mob your car as you give alms, while someone tries to open the doors to steal things.

If you must give alms, make sure first that there isn’t a mob of beggars who might try to swarm your car, and try to break in and steal your personal effects.

5. Don’t text while in traffic.

Aside from breaking the anti-distracted driving law (ADDL) which prohibits using mobile devices even when stationary while in traffic, use of these devices takes your focus away from your surroundings.

Thieves use the element of surprise to break into your car while you are distracted on your phone.

Plus at night, the mobile device will illuminate your interior further, allowing thieves to scope you out, and possibly attempt to break in when they see you are distracted.

6. Constantly monitor your surroundings while in traffic.

Texting while driving makes you lose your focus.

Thieves will try to break in when you’re stationary and traffic prevents movement. Always check your side and rear view mirrors for people moving in and around your vehicle.

7. If someone is attempting to break into your car, make a lot of noise.

Thieves dislike attention. The best ones slip away unnoticed. If you sense someone trying to break in, flash all your lights, blow your horn, and rev your engine to alert those around.

If thieves see other people starting to look at your car, they will back off and move away.

8. Arm yourself.

This is truly a last resort, and like insurance, is something you don’t ever want to use. Still, consider arming yourself.

It can be something as simple as a mace or pepper spray—to an extending baton or arnis, a small knife, or even a registered firearm.

9. Avoidance is best.

Try to find a route that has minimal traffic, and avoid routes that are poorly lit. Additionally, some areas are prone to thieves trying to break in, or masquerade as simple beggars.

From experience, this includes the Guadalupe Bridge on Edsa, the corner of Osmeña Highway/Slex Extension and Quirino at the base of the Skyway Stage 3, and C5 near the Market-Market area.

10. Carpool.

If thieves see there are more than one person in a car, they will most likely turn away as their break-in and escape would be far more difficult.

Remember, thieves want it easy (which is why they’d rather stake than work), so make it hard for them to attempt to break in.

11. Invest in a dash-cam, preferably one that is dual-facing (front and back).

If you can record the thief trying to break into your car, or a car ahead or behind you, and send the video to the authorities, the authorities will in turn seek out and pursue these thieves, and serve them justice.

Remember, safety is key. Focus on your driving and surrounding environment.

Don’t distract yourself with non-essentials when on the road, and avoid driving alone, through sketchy areas if possible.

Drive safe!

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