Theft is never a fun thing to deal with. It’s frustrating, costly, massively inconvenient, and, sometimes, a bit embarrassing. Chances are, you’ve either experienced or know someone who’s had to deal with walking back to their car to find some or all of it missing. If you haven’t, rest assured that prevention in this case, is always, always better than dealing with the consequences.

So, here’s 7 ways to make your ride more secure:

1 – Store your keys/spare mindfully

The easiest way for someone to pinch your car is to find your keys. That being said, where do you keep your spares? The most common places for most folks is either A) in a big bowl of keys near your front door, B) in a kitchen drawer, or C) in the garage.

These are all convenient places to put your keys, but they’re also similar to your cutlery, because that’s where everyone else keeps theirs too. If a thief manages to get into your house, your keys will be easy to find, and your car will be easy to take. I’m not saying that you should keep all your keys in a safe, but finding a place that is out of sight and unusual is a good measure to take. Don’t store keys to one of your cars in another either, because if one vehicle is compromised, then both are.

2 – Hide your valuables

I get it, this is probably something you’ve heard umpteen times before. It bears repeating, though. Car windows are hard to smash, but a laptop bag can provide just enough of an incentive to go the extra mile for the conscientious thief.

If you have to take equipment somewhere and it needs to stay in the car for a longer period of time, stow it under the seats, in the glovebox, or in the boot. Packing it in the right area to begin with will work out in your favour, since moving things from your cabin space to your boot once you get to where you’re going can attract attention you’d rather avoid.

3 – Choose safer parking spots

It only takes a few encounters in car parks before you can realise that everyone else is a lunatic and has no idea how to place their car between the white lines – I get it. The car park (and cars in it) I had to use for an old job is responsible for the innumerable dings on both sides of my car. And yet, I still parked in the thick of it. Want to know why?

Thieves pick the cars that are a way off – the ones that most people won’t notice if someone’s loitering outside of for an extended period of time. You might run the risk of a door love-tap, but it’s better than losing the kit and caboodle. Pick parking zones that have a clear line-of-sight to security cameras, if you’re parking in a large car park, and if not, then pick areas that will have a moderate amount of foot traffic and be well lit, if your vehicle is going to be in that area during the evening.

4 – Keep it clean

Picture in your mind two cars, identical in make, model, and year. One of them is clean inside and out, and the other is covered in muck, bugs, and bird droppings. Inside is a sea of receipts, water bottles, and the occasional Maccas bag. Which of the two do you think would be more likely a target of theft?

If your money is on the dirty car, you’d be right. According to a phenomenon called broken window theory, buildings that appear neglected tend to be more vulnerable to vandalism and theft. The same is true for vehicles. If your car appears neglected, a prospecting thief will assume that the car will be easier to break into, and that the act will go unnoticed for longer.

5 – Maintain your immobiliser

Does your car have an immobiliser or alarm system? If it does, you’ll want to keep it well-maintained. If your car doesn’t have an immobiliser, or you’ve disconnected it after having a disagreement, there are other options to consider. Even a flashing LED fitted to your dash can help in deterring theft. While you’re getting the car booked in to have the alarm looked at.

Another option is the old steering wheel lock, which can do two things – one, it can and does, help prevent theft of the car, because they’re big and heavy, and there aren’t a lot of ways you can get around them. However (and secondly), a steering wheel lock can also communicate to people looking in that you don’t have a working alarm/immobiliser in your car, and are resorting to more physical measures to get the job done. So be wise about whether you implement a lock with/without a pre-existing alarm system.

6 – Check the doors when you leave

Are your car doors locked? Checking that the doors are indeed locked has been a problem through all stages of car security, so it bears bringing up. Busting the lock is the first thing a thief is going to do when making off with your car, so removing that hurdle does you no favours.

Whether you’re out in town, visiting a mate’s, or your car is sitting in your driveway, the safest practise is to leave your car locked. Even if you’re in a safe suburb. Even if you’re only ducking in/out for ten minutes. It’s a wise things to do, so make sure it’s done.

7 – Invest in some locknuts

This is more of a specialised thing, but it can be worth it, particularly if you have nice wheels or expensive tyres. Locknuts are functionally the same as standard wheel nuts, but their slight size difference means that you cannot remove them (and subsequently, the wheels of the car) with a standard tyre iron (they come with a piece that fits the iron and specialised nut). They’ll cost a little extra, but are worth it for the piece of mind they deliver when preventing theft.