Preventing Car Stereo Theft

It takes seconds to remove your stereo and damage your car.

A car stereo is a valuable commodity to a thief.
Andresael/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

You risk potential theft anytime you leave personal items inside your car. Loose items are easy to steal quickly, and electronics like phones and GPS are valuable to criminals. While you can prevent theft of those items by not leaving them in your vehicle to start with, your car stereo presents a unique problem. The stereo is attached to the dashboard in most cases, leaving you no choice but to leave it when you exit your vehicle.

While car stereo theft has actually decreased in recent years, there is still a risk you need to be aware of whenever you exit your car. You have options available to help protect your car stereo, and you should especially take the risk seriously if you have a more expensive stereo system installed in your automobile.

The Risk of Car Stereo Theft

Car stereos make thieves a lot of money on the resale market. While stock systems are typically not in high demand, specialty stereos are very attractive to criminals, because they can be removed relatively quickly without needing to take the car itself. While car alarms are useful for bringing attention to a possible car theft, experienced stereo thieves have no problem breaking a window and ripping the stereo out even while the alarm is going off and creating a disturbance. The risk is heightened the more expensive your stereo is.

How to Reduce the Risk of Theft

You have a variety of options in reducing your risk of car stereo theft.

Some cost money, while others are more strategic and are completely free.

  • Check your doors and windows every time you leave the car to make sure they’re completely closed and locked. Unlocked doors and open windows pose as advertisements to thieves to target your stereo and your other possessions in the car.
    • Park your car in a secured area, such as a garage, whenever you are able to. When parking in public, park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. Thieves target vehicles that offer the least chance of them getting caught. Cars that are in the dark, parked near an easy escape route or are isolated from the public are more likely to suffer break-ins.
    • Keep the stock radio in your car if it works well and you like the sound quality. Thieves very rarely target or steal stock radios, because they don’t have much resale value. They also don’t fit well in different models of cars, giving them very limited usage outside of the vehicle in which they were originally installed.
    • Invest in a stereo with a removable face if you choose to upgrade your car radio from the stock model. Remove the face of the stereo and take it with you anytime you leave the car. Never leave the face in the glove box or anywhere else in the car, because people often do this and thieves will look for it.
    • Consider tinted windows to help prevent thieves from seeing what type of stereo you have in your car.

    While car stereo theft is a decreasing crime, it still occurs often enough for you to remain aware of it. Complacency is your worst enemy, so you always want to protect your investments.

    If your car gets broken into and gets components ripped out, it lowers the value of your vehicle in addition to the cost of the radio itself. Your car is an investment, even if it is an older model or isn’t in perfect condition. Park defensively and try to think like a thief before you leave your car. If you have a bad feeling about where you are, or you see a specific vulnerability, move the car and correct the situation immediately. If you see a security weakness, a professional thief sees it too.