Car theft rates in the US have seen a more or less steady decrease over the last three decades, standing at a staggering rate of almost 658 vehicles per 100,000 people back in 1990.
Thankfully, it’s now at a much lower rate of 246 per 100,000, but this still represents a significant spike on the previous year.
With a seemingly never-ending pandemic on our hands, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but it also likely reflects the risk posed by the increasing value of precious metals found in car parts of hybrid and newer vehicle models.
A massive surge in the theft of catalytic converters, which contain precious metals like platinum and palladium, has been observed recently. And if you’ve ever experienced vehicle or parts theft, you’ll be well-acquainted with not just how much of a massive violation it is, but how much of a massive nuisance it is!
With thefts on the rise, now is as good a time as any to consider investing in a car security camera. Discover the importance of having security cameras for your car and top tips on vehicle theft, as well as learning our choices for the best car security cameras, including 360 car cameras and dash cameras.
Top 6 Tips To Secure Your Car From Auto Theft
Since auto theft is on the rise, it’s useful to be aware of some of the ways you can go about preventing it. Here’s the rundown.
1. Lock the vehicle
We’ve all been there—you’re exiting your vehicle and something demands your attention, and you forget to lock it or shut the windows. As simple a mistake as it is to make, try to build a strong habit of always double-checking that the doors and windows are fully shut and that the vehicle is locked before you walk away from it.
2. Park responsibly
Where you park can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding your vehicle being targeted. In public, try to choose parking lots that have security guards onsite, and places that are both well-lit and well-populated.
Though it’s not always possible, when you are at home, have your vehicle be as close to the property as possible. Ideally, it should be visible from a window.
Then, consider pointing a security camera, or mobile device with AlfredCamera installed, at the car from inside the property, so that you can have eyes on the vehicle at all times even when yours aren’t.
AlfredCamera is particularly useful because it will use motion detection to notify you of unusual movement.
3. Consider installing a non-keyless entry
A ‘keyless’ entry is not the same thing as a fob with a button on it. Keyless cars open automatically when the ‘key’ (now often just a smartphone app) is in close proximity to the vehicle, and they are becoming an increasingly common feature in luxury vehicles.
They also often automatically start the engine as soon as the door unlocks.
These are, unsurprisingly, prone to hacking. Thieves can use a device to trick the car into thinking the key is close, thus unlocking the door and starting the engine.
Always make sure to turn off the wireless signal whenever the key is not in use, and ensure it is stored far from the car and reprogrammed every few months.
Perhaps even consider having a physical lock or traditional button-fob installed to increase security.
Many cars will come with built-in alarm systems. Generally speaking, it’s useful to have both visual and auditory deterrents when it comes to preventing theft. A loud alarm can deter would-be thieves and alert you to an attempt as soon as it happens, giving you ample time to notify the police.
If your car does not have an alarm system built in, there is always the option to have one installed. Modern alarm systems now also tend to feature GPS tracking, so if the vehicle does end up being stolen, the police can trace it.
5. Suspicious tow teams, shady mechanics
Looking out for shady individuals or groups of people is certainly easier said than done, but there are some telltale signs. Thieves disguising themselves as mechanics is one alarm bell that should be rang fairly easily. If they weren’t called, they aren’t real, and are probably just trying to steal a car part.
Likewise, illegal tow trucks can be used to tow vehicles off the street, among other scams that take advantage of drivers shaken up by accidents.
Unfortunately, tow truck scams have become common enough to warrant an ‘uptick in towing-reform legislation by states and municipalities, such as Arizona and California’, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Much like the ‘mechanics’, if the uniform looks suspicious and the tow truck has no branding on it, it probably isn’t real. If you or the emergency services did not call the tow team to the scene, do not deal with them.
Don’t hesitate to notify the police if you should have reasonable suspicions.
6. Install in car security devices
Numerous in-car security devices exist, including steering wheel locks, clutch locks, and lever locks.
Though cars do have built-in security devices, installing these additional ones is a good way to not only deter thieves in the first place (since they are fairly obvious looking even from the outside), but a way to stall the thief upon entering the vehicle.
In car security cameras are also a fantastic way to add another level of security to your vehicle, by having the cameras view both the contents of the car and the outside via dash cameras or a 360 car camera on top of the vehicle.
In the event that your car was unfortunately stolen, here is how you can find a stolen car in three steps.
When And Where To Put Cameras In Your Car
So, where exactly should you put a car security camera?
It’s not quite so simple as slapping a camera on the dashboard and being on your merry way.
Though cameras for car security are no doubt beneficial, it’s worth acknowledging the fact that they may in fact have the complete opposite effect of their intended purpose: attracting thieves looking to steal the contents of the car.
That’s why it is especially important to be discreet about camera placement. With that logic in mind, in car security cameras are favorable over external cameras, including 360 car cameras, since these are guaranteed to protrude from the top of the vehicle and are easy to steal.
Many modern vehicles feature built-in 360 car cameras that are completely undetectable—it may not be worth investing in one if the vehicle doesn’t already have this.
Products that market themselves as ‘spy cameras’ for cars are likely smaller and more subtle-looking, thereby mitigating the issue of having the camera attract attention to the vehicle.
Top 5 Best Car Security Cameras
When it comes to determining the best car cameras for security, discreteness really is the first priority you should be concerned about. Check out some of our picks for subtle, versatile cameras that you can place in your vehicle.
Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
Available on Garmin. From $129.99
Of Garmin’s excellent line of dash cameras, the Dash Cam Mini is the most discreet. It’s about the size of a car key, and attaches unobtrusively to the dashboard, mirror, or windshield without attracting any attention.
Don’t let its size deceive you: this is a powerful device that can record up to 1080p within a 140-degree view. Motion detection push notifications alert you to incidents via a linked device, voice control makes it easy to control hands free and safely, and the mini SD card slot allows you to save footage.
Garmin Dash Cam Tandem
Available on Garmin. From $299.99
Another great albeit slightly less conspicuous entry into Garmin’s line is the Tandem. Featuring two cameras instead of one, it allows for the recording of footage both outside and inside the car, making it particularly useful in contents-theft situations.
Each lens boasts a 180-degree field of view and up to 1440p HD video, while the night vision feature allows for capturing up to 720p video in darkness. Like the Mini, expect voice commands and weatherproofing. Unlike the Mini, expect a significantly larger price tag!
Ring Car Cam
Unreleased. From $199.99.
Amazon-owned Ring is well-regarded for its popular range of smart home security products, and is about to make a hotly anticipated entry into the world of dash cameras and other car security devices. Yes, the product isn’t out yet, but it is well worth staying on the lookout for it, since it promises to be particularly advanced.
Something painfully absent from many car cameras is mobile LTE data support, which Ring aims to address, allowing you to transmit video via the cloud from virtually anywhere. In the event that your car is stolen, the Ring Car Cam will be able to track its location, among other innovative features.
AREBI Spy Camera (4K)
Available on Amazon. From $59.97.
By far the smallest of the bunch, AREBI’s spy camera is a charming little cube designed for use in the home. Naturally, being less than two inches large, it would also make for a nifty little in car security camera.
Claiming to be the world’s smallest camera with a built-in PIR motion sensor, the AREBI Spy Camera captures up to 4K HD video with a 160-degree field of view with a long-lasting battery life (between 3 to 10 days on a single charge in low-power mode).
Unfortunately, it is Wi-Fi only, so features like motion detected push notifications may not come in handy if you intend to leave it permanently in your car. Still, if you’re looking for portable security cameras for your car while parked, this is a strong contender, and mini SD card support means you will have uses for it even without internet.
Speaking of which, be sure to check out our article on security cameras without Wi-Fi if you’re on the lookout for internet-free security.
One way to get around the issue of most ‘spy’ and dash cameras not providing mobile LTE data support is to instead use an old phone. By installing AlfredCamera to an old smart device, you can transform it into a fully functioning security camera that can be attached to the windshield or dashboard via a dashboard mount.
With AlfredCamera, you’ll receive motion detection-enabled push notifications and be able to livestream footage straight to a paired device. The low-light filter is also particularly useful for monitoring a vehicle in the dark.
Always remove the device when not present in the vehicle.
Safely Using Your Phone For Car Security
While having a security app like AlfredCamera installed on a device can be of use as an in car security camera, the rule of thumb is to remove the phone or hide it when not occupying the vehicle.
If your chief concern is having a dash cam in the event of incidents and accidents, then by all means, mount your device!
That being said, a more useful way to use AlfredCamera is to have a device pointing out the window of your home. That way, Alfred can keep an eye on parked vehicles outside the property.
Check out what some of our users had to say about how Alfred has helped them secure their vehicles.
I put it on my second floor apt. window to record the car parking area and outside the front stairs through the night since we already had our car broken into 3 times … We caught the thief with the recordings … Thank you. The videos record very clearly and it’s great that we can hide the app.
Well at our house, we can’t live without Alfred! Nightly here in California, we use our old smart devices as security cameras in every window of our home!! I’ll tell anyone who asks about security cameras and or surveillance stuff, don’t waste your money or time, just use Alfred! We can park our cars on the street or in the driveway even if we forget to lock em.. we’re safe with Alfred. Motion activated video recording with live event notifications, plus use an alarm and the option to talk to the perpetrator through your devices, is amazing! Try it out.. you won’t be disappointed.
Camera is pointed right at my vehicle – when someone slashed my tires, I was able to confront them about it and press charges.
Can you put a security camera in your car?
Yes, a security camera in your vehicle is a great way to keep an eye on your vehicle and equally as useful in accident/emergency situations. That being said, it is crucial that the security camera you choose is very discreet, so as not to draw attention to the contents of the car.
How do you catch someone messing with your car?
Having a security camera from inside your property pointed at your vehicle is an excellent way to catch someone in the act. A device that can send push notifications based on movement detection will then allow you ample time to contact the police. Also, make sure your car’s alarm system works, and if it doesn’t have one, consider installing one.
Is there a dash cam that records when the car is off?
Many dash cams, including those mentioned in our top 5 picks, feature rechargeable batteries, and therefore don’t always need to be connected to function. When choosing a dash cam, keep an eye out for any mention of ‘low power’, ‘battery saving’ or ‘sleep’ modes.
Can I leave my dash cam on overnight?
Yes, so long as the camera is particularly small and discreet. Larger cameras that are obvious to passersby can be detrimental to your vehicle’s security and should be removed when you are not occupying the vehicle. Ensure other security measures, like alarms and wheel locks, are in place as well.
Investing in security cameras for cars requires a little more attention than security cameras for the home, and that’s because a camera inside of a car always runs the risk of doing exactly what you’re trying to avoid: attracting the attention of thieves.
That being said, it is still very much a worthwhile way to improve the security of your vehicle in light of the recent increase in the theft of car parts. As such, any cameras you install must be subtle enough to be relatively concealed, without impeding the image.
In car security cameras are also beneficial for other uses, like recording footage during an accident or emergency. But it’s equally important to have cameras viewing the entirety of the vehicle when possible, like when the car is parked in the driveway of a home.
In this example, it may even be more important to have a camera from inside the home pointed directly at the car rather than having a camera inside the vehicle. The good news is that there are plenty of inexpensive options for both internal and external cameras, as well as numerous other security devices you can install in your vehicle to further increase its security, like alarms and wheel locks.
Recommended reading: Another Car Blocking Your Driveway? Here’s What To Do