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10 Tips to Keep Your Cars Safe From Theft

'Tis the season of breaking windows and taking stuff.
IMAGE Kafziel at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
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The season of giving always seems to go hand in hand with the season of taking. Criminals are back on the streets, preying on belongings and gifts they see inside parked cars.

The dreaded "basag-kotse" gang is active once again attacking shopping malls, wet markets, tiangges, and other densely populated areas. Headlines have been crowded with reports of smashed windshields and stolen laptops, gym bags, polo shirts, and even unwrapped presents. 

As ordinary citizens, we can only go as far as reporting the incident to the police and we all know how reliable they can be. In the meantime, let's rely on an old philosophy: prevention is always better than cure.

Here are 10 helpful tips to prevent you from being victimized by car thieves.

1| Always park your car in a strategic location. Look for a well-lit area and, if possible, leave your vehicle nearest the exit or entrance of any parking area well within the line of sight of the cashier or guard.

2| Be observant and look out for suspicious-looking people. If you notice that someone is watching your every move while you're exiting your vehicle or storing some items, be wary and change tact.

3| Don’t leave important documents and valuables inside your car. Don’t be complacent. Your dark window tint won't deter curious and unscrupulous people. In fact, your dark windows might make them even more curious.

4| Hide your belongings. If you have to leave things inside the car, cover them completely with newspapers or floor mats before locking the doors. Hide them under seats, if you can. This is important particularly with hatchbacks that don't have a rear cover in the cargo area.

5| Avoid having a regular pattern with your movements. Leaving the parking area for long, fixed hours makes your car and belongings vulnerable to thieves. Try making a quick stop just a few meters away where you can observe the surrounding areas of your vehicle before proceeding to your office building. And it won't hurt to check on your car several times during the day.

6| Be friendly to vendors with permanent stalls near the parking area. Aside from watching your car 24/7, chances are they will recognize potential criminals who will likely conduct reconnaissance before staging their heist. More often than not, ‘basag-kotse’ members operate in threes—a striker, a lookout, and backup.

7| Double-check your car before leaving the area. Remote-controlled door locks are not 100% foolproof. They can malfunction, sometimes when the battery is weak or when you accidentally press a key in your pocket.

8| Invest in a dependable car alarm system. Make a habit of regularly checking your car alarm and whether or not it still functions according to its specifications.

9| Randomly visit your car. Give your car a surprise visit every now and then. Let's hope you're not "lucky" enough to chance upon the scumbags breaking your car windows using old spark plugs.

10| Have emergency numbers on hand. Have a list of emergency contacts with you at all times—police, barangay hall, homeowners association, family members, and close friends—so they can respond quickly to the incident.

When a crime is committed, time is always of the essence for those pursuing the perpetrators. Who knows, the thieves might still be around the corner desperately waiting for a taxi ride with their loot.

This story originally appeared on Topgear.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Aris Ilagan for TopGear.com.ph
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