Taking a Bite Out Of Classic Car Theft - Part Two


In Part One, we covered numerous concepts to defeat electrical systems in your Classic, each adding a layer of protection by interfering with the attempts of a thief to "smash and grab" your Classic. Today we are going to cover additional deterrents which include everyday practices to begin using. We'll start there in this post.

Sounds almost too simple to be effective, but the majority of Classics are stored in home garages equipped with powered door openers, but left unlocked. Thieves can open these garage doors in about six seconds using a coat hanger.
But, you can easily defeat anyone attempting this method from entering your garage for about $2. All you need are wire ties. Insert the wire tie into the hole used for the emergency release, then over the top of the adjustment screw and into the locking end of the wire tie. If the wire tie is too short, add a second or measure beforehand to be sure you purchase the correct length.
Remove all of these items out of your Classic and store them somewhere else. No thief will take the time to be sure your registration is in the car, but if they get stopped, you've got a shot at recovery.

In the event your Classic is stopped by Police and no documentation is available, they will delay the driver until they do a more thorough review. We suggest taking the time to print up a notice on brightly colored paper and place it in the glove box or hang it inside the trunk where it will be painfully visible upon opening. The printing should be on both sides and NOT require anyone to unfold a larger piece of paper or pull from an envelope. A suggestion to get started:
Let the driver work it out with the authorities. If you have dropped your car off with a repair shop, take the time to advise them of the notice and that any test drives should include a copy of the work order authorizing them to drive your car. A few phone calls will be all it takes to clear up any misconceptions.

The majority of people under 30 have absolutely no idea how to drive a stick. If you have a stick, you've added another layer of protection.

Source: Wellborn Automobile Museum
While it seems rather insidious to imagine a friend stopping by with another guest anxious to have you tell them about your Classic, if you don't know who the other person is, they just might be staking out your home. Your actual friend may not even know it. So do yourself a favor, tell your friends you are sorry but you cannot share your car with people you don't know. Here's how these things often pan out.

A reader whose 1970 Ford Maverick was stolen from his home in Missouri revealed  the thief had been watching the car for 2 years, with the intention of stealing it and using it to race with. Chilling thing to find out.
In another similar case, a woman came home to a garage which usually held her her prized 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, valued at more than $150,000 empty. A neighbor's surveillance camera caught the actions of the thieves and revealed the Bel-Air was pushed down the street by a pickup truck which had pulled into her driveway just minutes after she had left. It's thought that the thieves spotting the car at one of the car shows, followed it home afterwards, then waited for the opportunity to steal it.

Similarly, don't leave your garage door open when expecting tradesmen or solicitors. One of our staff was taken by surprise when an unexpected solicitor came up the driveway while he was working on his Classic. 
The solicitor became intensely interested in the car and started asking all the wrong questions. Sensing things had taken a wrong turn, he told the solicitor he was storing the car for a neighbor while their home was up for sale and that it was being picked up by the shipper within the hour. The ploy worked and the Classic remains safe to this day


Dr. Phil's Classic was stolen from a repair shop
We take for granted the shop we choose to repair or restore our Classic is "safe and secure", but is it? There were as many reports noting Classics had been stolen from consignors while they thought your car was protected.

The above video reflects it took about 90 seconds for the thief to break into the shop, locate the vehicle they had staked out and leave the premises. It is unfortunate if any anti-theft devices were installed in the car, none were activated at the time along with ready access to the keys.  

If you are leaving your Classic with someone else, have them show you what precautions they take to prevent theft and show the how to engage any of the installed defeat devices. 

Source- Amazon
Almost every tow truck manufacturer has developed stunningly effective devices which can pluck a car while parallel parked, from between other cars and regardless of the car being in park, in gear or with the brakes locked. Sometimes these mechanical marvels are driven by dishonest people.
The only potential method of circumventing these efforts is to install a "boot device" which will delay efforts to snatch your car in 30 seconds. We were surprised to find out these "boots" are not all that expensive, $50 or so in most cases. By far, Amazon was the best source to review and select one that works for you.

Again, by installing a "boot" on your Classic while parked at home can defeat a thief...providing you don't leave the keys for them on your workbench.

Source - AutoSport
We are all familiar with the classic "CLUB" which locks around the steering wheel. Unfortunately over time, so have the thieves. They can use a hacksaw to cut the wheel and discard the device in about a minute. Newer devices attach to your brake and/or clutch pedals and as these are nearly as difficult to cut as the armored device itself offer a far greater level of protection. We reviewed several sites that sell these for about $45.

Again, presuming most Classic car thefts are "smash and grab", a Classic without a steering wheel is as useless as a chocolate teapot. We found numerous add-on devices including one from the well known steering wheel manufacturer, Grant. Be careful as some of them are noted as illegal for street use, though we highly doubt an arresting officer will cite you for a removable steering wheel as they haul the thief off to jail. (Sort of like loud mufflers?)

There are now several suppliers who make "micro-dot" infused paint visible only under ultraviolet light. In case you have never heard of this before, the "paint" contains thousands of these micro dots, each labeled with a unique identifying number code. You register your "code" them paint it on each body part, interior component and as many others as possible.

Should your car be stopped, nearly every Police department is equipped to look for these identifiers. This is especially important if your car has been "RE-VIN'D". (New VIN plate from a junk car) But it's also good for identifying parts which have been stripped. 

We were very impressed by a product called "COP DOTS". They have a distinct advantage of their founders apparently being Police themselves. This appears to reflect a greater acceptance by law enforcement departments and the greater the acceptance, the greater the use. Again we remind you we receive no compensation from these companies, just sharing what we know. It's also widely available.

We're all familiar with LOJACK, likely the originator of GPS vehicle tracking, but the market is now widening with devices that begin tracking if your Classic has been moved as well as after theft has been determined. Secondary suppliers have developed systems that rely on smartphone technology as well. With an astonishing high rate of recovery (90% for LoJack) these should be considered as a part of your "layering" system.

In 1994, the U.S. Attorney General established a national voluntary motor vehicle theft prevention program called "Watch Your Car". The concept is to sign up for the program and affix one or more decals to your Classic which calls for Police, Custom Agents and Boarder Patrols to stop your Classic and inspect conditions as if the car has been stolen.

The basic parameters are if your Classic is identified and it is being driven between the hours of 1 AM and 5 AM or within the proximity of borders or ports, you authorize authorities to stop and, if necessary, seize your Classic until proper identification can be confirmed.

Unfortunately only 14 states actively support the program (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North  Carolina, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the state of Washington) but ALL border patrol and customs officials was well as nearly every Police officer have been trained to identify WMC tags and act accordingly.

The image includes "TM" indicating a trademark application for the image has been submitted, so it is unlikely you can have one made without some kind of permission. 

Last in the line up is creating a well documented vehicle dossier using Garagistry. One of the main issues when a Classic is stolen is the lack of the owner's ability to supply high quality details and photos that may uncover a "RE-VIN'd" car or parts which have suddenly come to market.

If you take the time to create a well documented Classic using our system, it is available instantly where ever you are. You have the ability to share the important information, photos, VIN and every other detail with law enforcement to enhance chances of recovery. Further, should recovery show itself to be impossible, you have a concise record of your Classic for insurance purposes.

In Part Three of our series, we will cover what you should do the moment you realize your Classic has been stolen.