Car theft doesn't just happen to the rich and famous

By Ryan Hurlbert on September 15th, 2010

It could be a plot line right out of Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen's Mercedes Benz S600, one of the 20 most expensive cars to insure, was stolen out of his driveway in a high-security community--the second car stolen from Sheen this year. The thief sent the car careening down a cliff off Mulholland Drive. A Bentley that was stolen not far from Sheen's house was found nearby, ditched off the same hillside.

These are expensive cars, not the typical targets for joyriding. Normally, cars like these are stolen and shipped off to waiting buyers.

Your car might be at risk too

You may feel like your car is safe from theft. After all, it isn't a $100,000 luxury car, but you might be wrong. While thefts from celebrities like Sheen make the headlines, cars are most often stolen for parts. That means the more common your car is, the bigger the market for its parts.

To keep your car yours, follow a few simple rules.

  • Always lock the doors and take the keys. It sounds simple, but many people fail to lock the doors when they are home. Don't be fooled into a false sense of security because you live in a "nice neighborhood." Car thieves shop for targets in nice areas because they know the merchandise is good and people let their guard down. When you park your car in the garage, don't leave the doors unlocked and never keep your keys int the car.
  • Park in well-lit areas where there are lots of people milling about whenever possible.
  • Use an alarm and/or a stolen vehicle recovery system. The alarm may frighten off a thief, and once a car is stolen a tracking system can help law enforcement recover the car quickly and possibly catch the thief.

Car theft is covered by the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage, sometimes referred to as "damage to your auto other than collision," also pays for damage caused by fire, animals, falling objects, wind, water, hail, vandalism, and breakage of glass. Check with your agent to see what the cost of comprehensive coverage is, and weigh that against your ability to pay for this type of damage yourself.

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