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How to protect your vehicle from theft

You know that sinking “Oh, no” feeling when you can’t find your car where you think you left it — and the relief when you discover it one aisle over. Well, car theft is anything but an infrequent crime in Las Vegas, with the Metropolitan Police Department handling more than 1,400 cases of boosted vehicles each month.

No device or strategy will make a car 100 percent theft-proof. But the Metro Auto Theft Detail has online tips that can greatly reduce the chances of losing a vehicle:

* Lock your car. This should be a head-slapper, but many thefts are crimes of opportunity, and a locked vehicle is harder — and more public — to enter. Locking the doors reduces the chances of theft by 60 percent.

* Take your keys. Locked or unlock, keys dangling in the ignition, on the dash or even tucked away in the visor make it easier and more likely for your car to be grabbed. Removing keys drops your theft chances by 80 percent, according to Metro.

* Roll up your windows. Sure, it’s hot in the Las Vegas summer, but unrolled windows offer access and are an invitation to thieves. And rolling them up will reduce your car theft chances by 20 percent.

* Don’t leave your car in an empty lot for a long time. Having people around is a natural deterrent to someone doing something suspicious.

* Add anti-theft devices. Many newer cars come with them, but there are plenty of after-market offerings that will slow down a thief, disable the vehicle or help find and recover it if it is taken. Some dealerships and auto parts stores sell alarms, steering wheel, tire or hood locks and kill switches that shut off the fuel or power if the vehicle is not started properly. Also available are devices that make the vehicle hard to steer if not started properly.

There also are anti-theft services that can track the car. Some are available through the dealer, like GM’s OnStar system, and some are aftermarket, like LoJack, which works through the police. They are more expensive than add-on locks and kill switches but can help after the crime.

For more information about deterring car thefts and other crime prevention, go to the department’s website at lvmpd.com and click the Protect Yourself dropdown.

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