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Imagine coming out of your house or a store, only to discover your car is gone–it’s been stolen. No one wants to be the victim of vehicle theft, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 700,000 drivers are impacted by this “costly crime” every year. And many of those incidents are due to simple driver mistakes.

To help protect you and your vehicle from car thieves, the auto insurance experts at GEICO offer the following 10 tips:

1. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.

2. When parked, never leave your keys in the car. Close all the windows and the sunroof.

3. Never leave your car running and unattended.

4. Avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle where passersby can see them.

5. Know where you’re going. Avoid known high-crime areas even if the alternate route takes longer.

6. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they know the cars have a security device or can be recovered quickly. Furthermore, many insurers offer discounts for certain types of anti-theft systems.

7. Thieves prefer to work in the dark. Be particularly cautious at night about where you park your car. Park it in a well-lit area if possible.

8. Look around. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations.

9. On an incline, leave your car in park or in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb or some other obstruction. This makes it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle.

10. If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can’t.

By keeping these tips in mind and being cautious, you’ll be better protected from car thieves. If you ever fall victim to vehicle theft, call the police immediately.

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