are the 1991 Honda Accord (No. 2), and the 1988 Toyota pickup truck (No. 9).
Having your car stolen sucks. This is a real-life issue to me for a few reasons, other than the aforementioned fact that I drive a Civic not much newer than number one on the list (and I drove a 90 Accord that was stolen back in 99 or so).
For one, I lived in South St. Pete for two years and there were many auto thefts and break-ins at my old condo building, including my girlfriend's Jeep Liberty last summer. I got to experience the process by proxy watching her deal with it. It was a costly and aggravating process. She had to pay a $500 deductible for the experience, and as far as we know the police never caught the thieves.
She kept a close eye on her new Scion xD once she brought it home in February. We felt helpless knowing that a good thief could take it in minutes and there was little we could do about it.
I actually watched thieves steal a Chrysler 300C right in front of me two months ago while I was having a smoke on my patio. The thieves saw me, as well as a woman who was walking her dog not 20 feet away, watching them as they stole it. They were fast; by the time I realized I was watching a car get jacked, they were speeding off in it.
Then they brazenly came back about 20 minutes later to get another car while I was waiting for the police to show up. They drove right past me, and when I tried to get their license plate number they split. (The police officer told me the description of the truck they were driving was an exact match with one stolen the night before.)
The officer who took the police report on the stolen 300C told me the best thing to do to prevent a theft is to get the Club. It's not foolproof, but most thieves will pass up a car with this device for one without it. Even alarms aren't as effective because the pros know how to get around them (my girlfriend's Jeep had one), although they must be effective to a point: Nothing is more irritating than a car alarm blaring on and on unattended for hours on end.
You can also install fuel pump kill switches that can immobilize the car if necessary. and if you've got the money you can get LoJack installed, which will track your vehicle and lead the police right to it. LoJack would be the way to go for the satisfaction factor knowing the perps could be caught still in the car.
But the most obvious thing to do to protect yourself is to take the keys and lock your car. This seems like a no-brainer, but people forget. Leaving your keys in your car is an invitation to steal it.
Another factor, however, is where you live. Some areas have a higher rate of car thefts than others. You can check the crime rates in an area by clicking here, looking at this slide show, checking with these folks, or even calling local law enforcement officials.
I may have to invest in a Club now that I know thieves won't necessarily pass a car up just because it doesn't look that good anymore. This whole time I thought I was safe. It turns out I was just lucky.
(photo by Gh0stman)