Car theft continues to be a significant problem in the U.S. More than a million vehicles were stolen in 2022 and were on track to top that in 2023, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a nonprofit dedicated to combating and preventing insurance crime. But car and truck owners can take steps to protect their property.

Installing anti-theft devices on your vehicle can reduce the chances your auto will be stolen and may earn you discounts on your car insurance premiums. These auto-theft deterrents – from steering wheel locks to kill switches and alarms – can foil the most determined thieves.

In addition, new vehicle models may include built-in security technology, such as tracking devices that can help locate your auto if it is stolen.

“See what your options are if you buy a new car,” says Paul DelPonte, executive director of the National Crime Prevention Council. “Check with your dealer to see what dealer-installed devices are available.”

However, if your car does not have such built-in security, you can often add it by purchasing an add-on device.

Key Highlights
  • Anti-theft devices provide a strong deterrent against having your vehicle stolen and can help lower your insurance costs.
  • Simple devices can start as low as $15 to $20 and can go up to hundreds of dollars for more sophisticated devices, such as GPS trackers.
  • Some of the simplest steps to avoid having your car stolen include not leaving your car running and parking in a well-lit area.
Written by:
Mel Duvall
Contributing Researcher
Mel Duvall is an award-winning senior business writer and communications professional. He served as Senior Media Manager for Husky Energy, a fully integrated energy company with operations in Canada, the United States, China and Indonesia. Mel also served a three-year term on the Mount Royal University Journalism Committee.
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Nupur Gambhir
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Managing Editor
Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

11 anti-theft devices for cars

Wondering how to prevent your car from being stolen? Here’s a look at what’s editors believe to be the best 11 auto theft deterrent systems.

  1. Steering wheel locks
  2. Car wheel clamps
  3. Brake locks
  4. Audible alarms
  5. Hidden kill switches
  6. Vehicle-tilt and glass-break sensors
  7. Battery disconnect switches
  8. GPS trackers
  9. Remote locks
  10. Smart keys
  11. Faraday bags

1. Steering wheel locks

They’ve been around for decades, but one of the best car-theft protection devices is this tool that locks your steering wheel into place. Perhaps the most famous such device is The Club. Attaching a lock to your steering wheel means the wheel can’t be turned to steer the vehicle.

Cost: $25-$100.

2. Car wheel clamps

Instead of locking the steering wheel, you could lock an exterior vehicle wheel with a tire clamp or boot device. It is another of the best car anti-theft devices. This device can prevent thieves from stealing your wheel but also protects the entire vehicle from theft, as a clamped tire will not rotate or turn.

Cost: $40-$90.

3. Brake locks

Brake locks typically attach to your auto’s brake pedal, preventing thieves from using the brake and stealing the vehicle. Some attach to the steering wheel, which prevents the use of the brake pedal.

Cost: $20-45.

4. Audible alarms

The blaring of an alarm can be a great car theft deterrent. An alarm will attract attention to your vehicle. That can be enough for a thief to pick another target.

Cost: $100-$1,000, depending upon system and installation type.

5. Hidden kill switches

Install one or more of these switches inside your vehicle to cut the flow of electricity at the battery or ignition switch or to shut down the fuel pump. If you install several switches, thieves will have their work cut out for them when they try to find them all.

Cost: $10-$50 each.

6. Vehicle-tilt and glass-break sensors

Glass-break and vehicle-tilt sensors issue an alert if your car windows are broken or someone jostles your car and the vehicle’s position changes – for example, by trying to load it on a tow truck and haul it away.

The sensors may sound an alarm, shut down the ignition or send you an alert on your smartphone.

Cost: $40-$100 for a tilt sensor; $15-$20 for a glass-break sensor.

7. Battery disconnect switches

This simple device allows you to disconnect your automotive battery’s power, so thieves cannot drive away with your vehicle.

Many people use these devices to quickly turn their auto’s battery power on and off when working on the vehicle. But some devices allow you to turn off the power and disconnect the knob so thieves can’t reconnect the power source.

Cost: $10-$50.

8. GPS trackers

You can use a GPS tracking device to keep track of your car’s location. If your vehicle starts moving when it’s supposed to be parked outside your office, you’ll know you have a problem. Text or email alerts will be sent to your smartphone. You can get detailed reports on where your car has gone and is headed.

Cost: As low as $20 up to several hundred dollars and subscription fees.

9. Remote locks

Remote locks are a great anti-theft device because if you walk away from your car and forget to lock it, a remote lock lets you lock and unlock your vehicle from your smartphone.

Cost: Standard on some vehicles ranging from $100 to $600 for others.

10. Smart keys

Smart keys have a radio pulse generator that communicates with antennae inside the car to lock, unlock or start the vehicle. These devices deter theft because they send different frequency signals that are encrypted every time a door is unlocked or a trunk is opened remotely.

Cost: These often come standard on new cars and can be added to other vehicles with cost depending on whether you self-install or hire a professional.

11. Faraday bags

It is possible for thieves to pick up the radio frequency your key fob emits, allowing them to access the vehicle. Putting your key fob in a faraday bag prevents electromagnetic signals from being susceptible to theft.

Cost: $15.

What do you do if your car gets stolen

If your car gets stolen, there are a few key steps to take.

For starters, inspect where you parked your car to make sure that it was parked legally. If it wasn’t, it may have been towed away. Once you’re sure it was likely stolen, follow these steps:

  • Call the police immediately to report the theft. You’re going to need the police report later and it may increase the likelihood of it being recovered. Just keep in mind a stolen vehicle isn’t going to be considered an emergency and should be reported to a non-emergency line.
  • Contact your insurance company to make a claim. Give your insurance company the same details and facts you just gave to police, including the date and time of the theft, location of the vehicle, location of all the keys associated with the vehicle, title to the car, and a detailed description of the car.
  • If you are financing the vehicle, notify the lending company and provide them with the police report number. While the loan won’t be forgiven, it may assist you at a future date.
  • Notify your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV keeps a database of stolen vehicles to ensure you don’t have future ownership or title issues. It may also prove useful if someone tries to register the stolen vehicle.

Once the basics are done, there are a number of extra steps you might want to take such as tracking your car with an in-vehicle communications system such as GM’s OnStar system or Toyota’s Safety Connect. Look for security cameras where your vehicle was parked. If it was stolen from your driveway or parked on your street, ask neighbors if they might be able to share camera footage. 

Which cars are the most likely to be stolen?

The most stolen vehicles in are Chevrolet and Ford full-size pick-ups, as full-size pick-ups made up more than 25% of all thefts reported in 2022, according to the NICB.

The organization notes that full-size pick-ups and mid-sized sedans are the biggest sellers when it comes to vehicles in the U.S., and a combination of popularity and availability makes them an attractive target for thieves.

The top 10 most-stolen vehicles in the U.S. in 2022 were:

  1. Chevrolet pick-up (full size)
  2. Ford pick-up (full size)
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Hyundai Sonata
  6. Hyundai Elantra
  7. Kia Optima
  8. Toyota Camry
  9. GMC pick-up (full size)
  10. Honda CRV

What is the most secure car against theft?

The chances of your vehicle being stolen varies depending on multiple factors, such as if your keys were left in the vehicle or if the engine was left running to warm up. However, some types of vehicles are stolen more frequently and others much less. 

In 2023, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) saw a continuing trend for a number of electric vehicle models having the lowest theft numbers. The HLDI says this may be because they are often parked overnight in well-lit and comparatively secure areas for charging, or simply because electric vehicles can’t be hot-wired the same way as a regular vehicle.

The HLDI reported six of the top 20 models with the fewest theft claims were electric vehicles. 

Here are the top 10 least stolen vehicles for the model years 2020 through 2022  according to HLDI:

  1. Tesla Model 3 4WD
  2. Tesla Model Y 4WD
  3. Volvo XC90 4WD
  4. GMC Acadia 4WD
  5. Tesla Model X 4WD
  6. Volvo XC40 4WD
  7. Tesla Model 3
  8. Chevrolet Trailblazer 4WD
  9. Lexus UX hybrid 4WD
  10. Volvo XC60 4WD

Learn more about car make and model: What they mean and why they matter

What stops thieves from stealing cars?

Vehicle thefts in the U.S. were on track to top 1 million in 2023, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. If you want to avoid being added to the statistic, there are a number of ways to discourage thieves from targeting your vehicle:

  • Keep your car locked at all times
  • Never leave your keys in the vehicle
  • Make sure valuables are not visible in the car
  • Do not leave the title in the vehicle
  • Park in a well-lit and well-known area
  • If you have a garage, use it to park your vehicle rather than to store boxes and bikes
  • Install an anti-theft system
  • Have the VIN etched in the vehicle’s glass
  • Track your car with a GPS tracking system

Frequently ask questions: Best anti-theft devices for cars

Do auto insurance companies offer anti-theft discounts?

Many insurance companies offer anti-theft discounts for drivers who have anti-theft devices in their vehicles. For example, Geico says you can get a discount of up to 23% on your premiums when installing an anti-theft system.

Nationwide also says it offers discounts for factory-installed anti-theft devices and devices installed after you buy your vehicle. However, these price breaks may not be available in all states, and savings vary based on the state and the type of device.

Does car insurance cover theft?

Many drivers assume that car insurance will cover the theft of their vehicle. But this is not necessarily the case. Comprehensive coverage – optional for policyholders unless the vehicle is financed – covers your auto theft. You won’t be covered if you choose not to carry this coverage.

Car insurance, even comprehensive coverage, does not cover the theft of personal property inside of a stolen vehicle. If you have personal property stolen inside of a car, check with your renters or homeowners insurance policy to see if you have coverage.

Will an anti-theft device keep my car safe?

The NICB’s Stroisch says installing an anti-theft device can make sense for many drivers, but no device is foolproof.

“There’s always someone determined to find a way to defeat it,” Stroisch says.

What other steps can I take to prevent car theft?

Using some common sense goes a long way toward preventing vehicle theft:

  • Lock your doors
  • Don’t leave remote keyfobs in your car
  • Parking in a well-lit area

“If you have a garage at home, use it for your car, not for storage,” DelPonte says.

If your car is stolen, the NICB recommends immediately calling law enforcement and your insurer. NICB data shows that reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after it is stolen increases the chance of recovery.

Final thoughts: Anti-theft devices

There is no single anti-theft device that is right for every automobile.

Chris Stroisch, vice president of public affairs and communications for the NICB, says that the type of anti-theft device you choose likely will depend on your level of comfort with both inconvenience and price point.

“It depends on what type of theft you’re attempting to prevent, as to which type of device you should purchase,” Stroisch says.

Check out our experts’ recommendations on the best car insurance discounts.

Resources and Methodology


  1. National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Chevrolet and Ford Full Size Pick-Ups Most Stolen Vehicles For Second Year in a Row.” Accessed February 2024.
  2. National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Full-Size Trucks Have Highest Theft Rate.” Accessed February 2024.
  3. National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Vehicle Thefts Continue to Increase to Near-Record Highs in 2023.” Accessed February 2024.
  4. National Insurance Crime Bureau.”Vehicle Thefts Nationwide Surpass One Million For the First Time Since 2008.” Accessed February 2024.
  5. IIHS. “Dodge muscle cars once again top HLDI’s list of most-stolen vehicles.” Accessed February 2024.
Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

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Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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John is the editorial director for, and Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like and and managing content, now at

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir

Managing Editor

Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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Contributing Researcher

Mel Duvall is an award-winning senior business writer and communications professional. He served as Senior Media Manager for Husky Energy, a fully integrated energy company with operations in Canada, the United States, China and Indonesia. Mel also served a three-year term on the Mount Royal University Journalism Committee.