Clubbing theft

Steering You Right with Sharon Peters

Q: For years I’ve been seeing The Club (anti-theft bar you put on steering wheels) or some knockoff of it on older cars when I’m walking around neighborhoods. I’ve always assumed that’s because old cars are easier to break into and steal. Although some of them look beat up enough that they’re unlikely targets, I guess you add whatever extra layer of protection you can so you’re not left car-less. But lately I’ve been seeing them on much more high-end cars, ones that I assume have anti-theft technology. Can you explain?

A: It’s true that many older cars are fairly easy to break into. And in some neighborhoods, even young kids learn how to spot the cars that will be easiest to make off with – and they have the skills to do it. Sometimes they’ll ride around and abandon the vehicle; sometimes they steal models that chop shops have told them are worth much more dismantled and sold part by part than the vehicle would fetch on the open market.

So even vehicles that might seem worth little can be desirable, and their owners might take the extra step to try to thwart theft.

For a time, luxury cars with all their anti-theft add-ons were considered quite safe from theft. But, as with all things technological, there are workarounds, and unsavory sorts have, as always, invested energy in becoming proficient.

When fancier cars are stolen, it’s likely not a kid who’s done it but professionals. The thieves have come up with ways, my law enforcement pals tell me, to crack factory transponder codes for immobilizer systems or to disable alarms and unlock doors. Even systems that haven’t been cracked yet might be, owners fear, so that’s why some luxury car owners use The Club or similar implement.

And that approach isn’t failsafe, either. Experts say a hacksaw can get through The Club pretty fast, and you can be certain some professional thieves carry them. However, many car owners believe that a thief, seeing an additional barrier that requires 60 seconds more of theft time (thereby increasing the chance of detection) might choose an easier prey. They figure the $40 or so investment in the anti-theft gadget is small enough that they’re willing to invest in one just in case.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email















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