How To Keep Your Classic Car From Getting Stolen


It’s no secret that classic cars are expensive and desirable which unfortunately makes them a popular target for criminals. If you’re worried about your classic car getting stolen, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take that will greatly decrease your chances of becoming a victim of classic car theft. Most of these steps are measures that can be taken by almost anyone who owns a classic car and they will be able to give you a better sense of security, letting you sleep better at night. I’ve been able to compile a list of ways to prevent your classic car from being stolen and they have proven to work great with the classic cars I own.

Keep Your Classic Car Covered

It’s usually pretty easy to spot a classic car either because of a less common paint job, the loud noises it makes, or simply because of it’s shape. That’s why keeping your classic car covered whenever you’re not using it is vital. The cover provides much needed protection and leaves it less conspicuous.

The last thing you want to do it advertise to the world that you own a classic car and that you don’t really care to secure it because you didn’t put a cover over it. Even if it’s in a garage, a cover is still important because people can still peer through the doors and windows and spot it in there.

Driveway or curbside parking makes a classic car especially susceptible to getting stolen. Putting a cover over it is the number one way to deter attention from criminals to your classic car.

Keep Your Classic Car Garaged

Keeping your classic car garaged may seem like an obvious way to prevent your classic car from getting stolen, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do it when they actually do have a garage.

Some people like to show off their classic car, especially in the summer, and keep it parked in the driveway for neighbors and passersby to see. Though that can be fun and give you a big sense of pride, it’s completely unwise to do so.

Whenever you are not using your classic car, always keep it tightly locked up in the garage. Keeping it locked up in the garage greatly reduces your chances of your classic car getting stolen as it acts as a bigger deterrent and obstacle that criminals don’t want to really encounter. Some of them prefer stealing a car that parked outside because that’s much easier.

Still, a garage doesn’t guarantee your classic car is 100% theft-proof. If you have a classic car that a criminal is targeting specifically, they may still attempt to break in. However, an additional perk to storing your classic car in a garage is that it’ll take some time and noise to break in to. You can’t steal a car without opening the garage door and that will probably be hard to go unnoticed by you.

Take Pictures And Video Of Your Classic Car

Whether or not you like to take pictures of everything, one thing you should always do it take pictures and videos of your classic cars and make them thorough. Aside from this being evidence to show off to your friends about how cool your classic car really is, this can also provide valuable information to authorities and the community about what your classic car looks like if it ever gets stolen.

If you’re ever caught in the unfortunate case of having your classic car stolen, you’ll immediately have good pictures to show the police, who will then be able to do their job quickly and have an easier time identifying what they’re looking for. So much time can be wasted when authorities ask for pictures of the car and you have to rummage through filing cabinets or old emails, hoping you can find the original ad from when you first bought it.

Keep The Entrance Well Lit

Whether your classic car is parked outside or inside the garage, an important deterrent for criminals is light. If you’re parked outside, make it a point to either park right underneath a street light, or, if you’re parked in your driveway, be sure to have all the porch lights on so your classic car is well illuminated. Don’t be afraid to install a few extra lights to make it less appealing for criminals.

If you’re parked in a garage, having extra lighting at any point of entrance into either the garage or your home will also deter burglars. Those who attempt to steal classic cars prefer to target ones that are in dark places so it will be less likely for them to be spotted and/or identified by security cameras.

It might be especially helpful if you have some motion lights at all entrances while still having your normal lights on. Those who still attempt to steal classic cars under the light may be scared off but an additional motion light turning on because they know that once those turn on, it can easily alert you or neighbors close by that there’s motion going on somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Check Your Classic Car Every Morning

One of the biggest mistakes us classic car owners can do concerning the safety of our cars is not check in on it frequently enough. Sure, when you first buy or restore a classic car, you may not be able to get enough of it and be outside with it constantly. But over time, that wears off and we tend to check on it less frequently.

This is especially relevant in the winter months when we don’t drive our classic cars near as often as we do in the summer. You may have stored your classic car away for the winter and don’t really plan on using it for a few months.

You may want to rethink this strategy if this is something you do. If you were the unfortunate victim of having your classic car stolen and didn’t know it til weeks down the road, the chances of you recovering your classic car dramatically decrease. You may not be able to give authorities the actual date and time frame of when it was stolen which gives them less to work with.

Checking in on your classic car every morning to see that there wasn’t any attempt to break into it or simply that it’s still there. If one day you go out to check on it and see that it’s gone, you know exactly when it was stolen and are able to give authorities vital information which will greatly increase your chances at recovering it.

Keep A Light On Inside

This safety precaution is mostly relevant if you keep your classic car stored inside a garage. Though it may not seem financially or energy efficient, keeping a light on inside the garage can actually greatly prevent a potential burglar from stealing your classic car.

Again, light tends to deter criminals from pursuing certain activities because they don’t want to be under a light that can easily identify them from either security cameras, neighbors, or if you happen to walk in on them in them middle of them stealing your classic car.

If you’re worried about keeping the lights on all night, there are timers you can purchase that turn your lights on and off in a random pattern. Some of them even have sensors on them so when it senses movement outside, it will automatically turn the lights on which will give the burglars reason to believe someone is inside the garage and has turned on the lights.

Keep A Radio On

This safety precaution may see a bit annoying, but it’s actually quite effective with repelling any potential criminals breaking in and stealing your classic car. There are several reasons why having a radio on is effective, one of them being that if anyone who is attempting to break in can hear voices, they may think twice.

The second reason you should keep a radio on in the garage is because potential classic car robbers may think someone is inside listening to the radio. If you choose to do this option, be considerate of neighbors and don’t blast your radio. Rather, keep it at a volume to where it’s noticeable from being right outside your garage, but not loud enough for people to know it’s the radio. This leaves potential threats guessing and may rethink their decision.

Refrain From Constantly Exposing Your Classic Car

One of the biggest mistakes classic car owners do is show off their car too much. I have done this a lot myself, and now I see why it’s a mistake to do this.

I’m not saying that you can’t drive your classic car around and show it off at car shows, rather what you shouldn’t do is constantly have your classic car parked in your drive way uncovered or constantly sitting in your garage with the garage door open. This is basically saying to the world that you have a classic car that’s ready to be stolen.

Most burglaries are committed by someone who lives in the same neighborhood or withing several miles. So someone driving around trying to find a potential target will be able to see your classic car just sitting in your driveway. Worst of all, if you’re constantly leaving it in the driveway uncovered or sitting in the garage with the door open, they’ll know you’re not taking many security measurements and you’re more likely to become a victim of a stolen classic car.

Keep Windows Closed And Doors Locked

Again, you may think this is another obvious safety measure to take, but again you’d be surprised at how many people don’t make locking their windows and doors in their classic car a priority. People who park their classic cars inside a garage are less likely to lock their cars because they feel like their garage is enough protection.

Perhaps some people don’t lock their classic cars because their security systems are outdated and don’t scare away burglars like modern cars do nowadays. Though it is true that classic cars are easier to break in to, locking the doors and keeping all the windows closed still provides an obstacle and can add on some time it takes for a thief to break in.

If they decide to break a window, that gives you an extra alert because a window breaking isn’t necessarily quiet. Locking your doors and keeping your windows closed can still provide valuable safety measurements to your classic car.

Cover Or Frost Garage Windows

If you own a garage that has windows, it’s a good idea to obstruct any view that outsiders may have through said windows. Working in the garage in the evenings is pretty common for a lot of people, but that also makes it possible for outsiders to look in and see exactly what’s going on, even from the street.

Take a few minutes and walk around your garage at night with the lights on. Observe what you can see through them; you’ll be surprised with how much you can see and you’ll quickly learn that you don’t necessarily have to be right up against the window to see what’s inside.

There are several ways to prevent people from looking inside your garage windows and peering at your classic car. You can either cover it with cardboard or some other solid substance. Or you can try installing blinds or curtains on the inside of your window and always keep them closed while you’re working or when the lights are on inside.

The third option would be to frost your windows from the inside. This is a great option that a lot of people choose because it still allows light to come in from the outside, but it makes it blurry enough when you look through it that you can’t really what’s inside your garage.

Crank The Wheels

Anything you can do to make it difficult for potential burglars to steal your classic car is worth doing. Another measure you can take to help prevent your classic car from getting stolen is turning your wheels completely to one side every time you park it in your garage. This can also work if you have to park on the curb.

What a lot of criminals end up doing is somehow getting the classic car put into neutral and pushing it out to a place where they feel it’s safe to start the car without getting noticed. You give them the perfect opportunity of doing this if you keep your wheels straight and they can simply push your classic car right out.

Having your wheels turned in a certain direction, however, will prevent them from being about to roll it out. Rather, it would just run into a wall (or the curb if that’s where you’re parked) which will make it much more difficult for someone to steal. In most cars, the steering wheel is locked unless you have the keys in the ignition. So unless you left the keys inside the classic car, most burglars will have a hard time rolling it out.

Some people even go as far as taking the steering wheel off too so it gives criminals zero opportunity to straighten the wheels. This is pretty doable on classic cars because they’re easier to take off compared to modern cars. You can decide whether or not that’s how far you want to go.

Store Keys Inside With You

It can be very tempting to store your classic car keys either inside the car or inside your garage somewhere. Most people don’t actually leave their keys in the ignition, but they do hide a spare key in very obvious places such as cup holders and glove boxes. Keys are also commonly stored somewhere in the garage. You may think you’re being sneaky with finding a good hiding place for them in your garage, but chances are the burglar will be able to find them

A burglar knows the obvious hiding spots to look and will quickly be able to find the spares you have laying around. A seasoned burglar will also stalk a few days before they actually attempt to steal classic cars and will be on the look out of where you store your keys.

As a rule of thumb, always store your classic car keys in a safe place inside your home. A burglar may be less willing to break into a home where people reside just to get a key for something they want to steal in the garage. They want to get in and out as quickly as they can, so hiding your keys inside will provide and extra deterrent for them.

Install An Alarm System

A lot of people resist installing an alarm system because they don’t want to have to deal with monthly payments and a company that has poor customer service. There are actually a lot of options out there that you can install yourself that require no monthly payments. The only thing you have to pay for is the items themselves.

There are may security cameras you can install that will alert you when it senses movement. You can install apps that will send alerts straight to your phone so you know you won’t miss anything. You can also tune in to most cameras and get a live feed or look back from last week at anything suspicious.

There are also several alarm systems you can get that are essentially the same. You install it yourself and they can even contact the police if you program it to do so. Click here to see the security merchandise I recommend for attached and detached garages alike.

Etch VIN Into Windows

There’s a cool little process you can do that surprisingly repels a good number of burglaries. Some people have etched their VIN’s into all the windows of their classic cars.

There are kits you can purchase that are inexpensive, usually about $20. The etching isn’t very big so you don’t have to worry about it being an eye sore when you’re driving your classic car around town or take it to a car show.

Thieves and burglars usually don’t like stealing classic cars that have the windows etched with the VIN on it because that means they can’t sell it (which is usually the reason they steal classic cars in the first place). They won’t be able to make a fake title because the VIN is etched in the car, chop shops won’t accept etched VIN’s, and if a burglar has any hope of selling the classic car, they would have to go through the trouble of replacing all the windows first which is expensive and not worth their time.

Etched windows are hard to see sometimes, so make sure you put some sort of sign out on the classic car informing any potential burglars that the windows are indeed etched with the VIN on them.

Install A Kill Switch

Unfortunately, classic cars are easier to hot wire which makes them an easier target for stealing. That’s why it’s a good idea to install some sort of kill switch in your classic car to prevent that from happening.

The kill switch will prevent your classic car from starting at all, hot wiring or not. Most kill switches are inexpensive and pretty easy to install. Some can easily be installed directly on the battery, but there are many classic car owners who don’t like putting it there because seasoned criminals can easily take those off.

If you or someone you know is savvy with electric wiring, install the kill switch somewhere in the wiring that’s a lot less obvious for any burglar to see.

Install A GPS Tracker

Not all hope is lost if your classic car does end up getting stolen. There are plenty of GPS trackers you can purchase and install on your classic car. These can easily give you a better sense of peace that your classic car is more secure.

Vehicle GPS trackers will come with a small device that you can install on your classic car. I recommend installing it somewhere inside the car and hidden away so water or hard bumps don’t knock it off on the outside.

These trackers usually come with an app you can install on your phone and will be able to tell you the exact coordinates your car is located. It’s inconspicuous to thieves and it will be able to lead you right to where your classic car is if it gets stolen.

Don’t Indicate You’re Going Out Of Town

One of the worst things you can do for yourself and your belongings is advertise to the world that you’re going out of town, even for the afternoon. Most burglaries actually happen during the day between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm because that’s when people usually aren’t home. But if you advertise to the world you’ll be gone, a criminals window of opportunity opens even broader.

Don’t ever say on an answering machine that you’re gone. Burglars will call ahead to see if you leave messages like that. That will only confirm to them that they have free game to your belongings. Also never post on social media that you’ll be gone or that you’re planning a trip for specific dates. Burglars also look on social media specifically for this reason.

Related Questions

How many cars get stolen a day? According to a Nationwide report, close to 2,000 vehicles are stolen per day in the United States. That is billions of dollars worth of cars stolen every year. Usually about 60% of cars that are stolen are recovered and given back to the owner.

What happens to a car’s title if it’s stolen and recovered? If a car is stolen and recovered quickly, meaning withing a day or two, there will be no issues with the car’s title. However, if it takes several weeks or longer for the car to be recovered, the car will most likely have a salvage title even if there are no known damages to it.

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