We see it all the time: beautiful, ultra-rare American classic or race car stolen in broad-daylight never to be recovered again - or at least not in one piece. All-in-all, automotive enthusiasts can sometimes be way too trusting with each other, because let's be honest - most, if not all, car thieves are enthusiasts themselves looking to make money. They know their stuff and they know what's valuable and in demand.
Common sense tells us that if the vehicle has working door locks, keep them locked at all times. If you have a garage, store your beast inside when it's not in use. And of course, NEVER leave your keys in your ignition when the car is unattended! But what happens when that's not enough? Thieves can be, for lack of a better term, sneaky, so it's important to seriously consider what or who you will trust to keep your baby safe.
We've gone ahead and done the research to provide you with our top 5 protection devices for your classic (in no specific order). Each system has its pros and cons which we've listed to help you choose which is best for you. We've bypassed the topic of car alarms. They seem to be a no-brainer. Most of the systems listed would probably do well in conjunction with an alarm, as many of them will keep your classic from being stolen, but won't necessarily alert you to the attempted-theft. In reality though, unless you're buying a deluxe version that offers something cool like satellite tracking on your smartphone, they don't do much and usually go ignored. Plus, no one wants to hear your alarm going off in the middle of the night due to a little bit of rain.
That being said, here are our top five picks!
1. LoJack for Classics - $695
LoJack is one of the first things to come to mind when thinking "aftermarket security systems" and for good reason. Basically, LoJack is a stolen vehicle recovery system and the only one of its kind that is operated by police, with a guarantee that if the vehicle is not recovered within 24 hours, the customer receives their money back. Once the car is reported stolen, routine police entry of vehicle information into the nationwide law enforcement stolen vehicle computer system activates the LoJack device concealed within the vehicle and any police vehicle in the area can pick up on the signal. So let's look at some of the pros.
- It's a self-powered system, meaning the battery and wiring on your classic doesn't need to be messed with during install - a huge relief to some enthusiasts who don't want to get into the wiring bit when it comes to security. This also means LoJack won't drain your power.
- The aforementioned guarantee is responsible for a 90% success rate.
- You'll only pay for LoJack once. There are no residual monthly fees.
- "Early warning" is an option, which alerts you by phone call, email, or text if your vehicle moves.
- Most thieves aren't one-time offenders, which means that one stolen classic with LoJack can lead to the recovery of a stock-pile of classics.
- Many states offer a pretty decent discount (up to 35%) on your comprehensive insurance premiums. Check the website and your insurance company to see if you would qualify.
This is all good and well, but the con of this system would be that the car would already have to be stolen to work (except in the case of the optional early warning option). This is not a preventative measure, but rather the step you would take after the fact, so it is probably best to combine LoJack with another form of security.
2. Ravelco - $469.95
Simply put, Ravelco is a preventative of automotive thefts. Basically, the Ravelco Anti-theft Device is a really cool system that is installed into any vehicle and acts almost like a second key to your car - you take the plug with you and simply plug it back in before turning the key. The best part? It is virtually foolproof. In the 37 years since Ravelco has created this security system, exactly zero cars outfitted with it have been stolen. Pros:
- Female plug is installed in an easily-accessible place either beneath or flush mounted into the dashboard of your vehicle.
- 16-pin male plug connects to your keychain when not in use. There are more than 100,000 different electronic combinations making it impossible to duplicate, and you receive two (so you have a back-up when you lose the first one in your garage).
- Hidden armored steel cable protects the wires from the rear of the Ravelco base into the engine compartment where all connections are made and carefully camouflaged.
- Comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Most insurance companies will give a 10 to 25% discount on your comprehensive rates after installation.
- Each Ravelco is handmade and all components are manufactured entirely in the United States of America.
We really had trouble coming up with any cons for this one. The success stories on Ravelco's website kind of speak for themselves. Although, it should be noted that if there is an issue with the system your car probably won't start, which can be a real inconvenience, and the install can only take place at a Ravelco-approved shop. Also, if a would-be thief is already in your car and you have not been alerted, he or she will probably become frustrated with the disabled car. Who knows what kind of havoc they might wreck? Your aftermarket radio will probably get jacked.
3. VinShield - $19.95
The VinShield is a kit designed to "Vin Vaccinate" - permanently etch the federally registered vehicle identification number (VIN) into all the major glass areas on a car or truck. As the website reminds us, vehicles are stolen for one of two reasons - for resale or for parts. Basically, you use the kit to etch your VIN into the windshield, side glass, and rear glass of your car in plain view. Pros:
- The hope is that the would-be thief will notice it and bypass your car since most experienced car thieves know that they will have to replace all of the glass before selling any of it, and auto glass is not exactly cheap.
- Buyers of stolen vehicles will not risk getting caught with VinShield marked cars because VIN-etched window glass makes for great physical evidence in court and chop shops will not want glass laying around their shop with incriminating VIN etched on each piece.
- The etching is barely noticeable during daily driving.
- It's simple to etch your windows. The kit comes with everything you need, and you can do it at home, which means you don't have to leave your car at a shop for an entire day.
- Recommended by law enforcement agencies throughout the US as an effective auto theft deterrent.
- Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington now have laws providing for insurance discounts on cars with VIN-etched windows.
Like the previous security systems, this should be used in conjunction with another type of security system as it will not alert you if your car is being stolen. Another downside is that inexperienced thieves might not see the etching as it is faint and will steal the car anyway, or at the very least steal all of the contents.
4. The Club - $42.99
Ask anyone what comes to mind when they think vehicle security and they'll probably say loud annoying car alarms and that red thing that people put on their steering wheels. The Club is a pretty well-known form of auto security that basically restricts the turning radius of the steering wheel. The concept according to Winner International: If you can't steer it, you can't steal it. Pros:
- According to Winner International, The Club is over 99% effective in reducing auto theft.
- The club comes in red and blue, both bright and noticeable colors, to deter thieves before they even attempt to enter your vehicle.
- It is easy to adhere to your steering wheel and locks with a key.
- Almost 50 prototypes were developed and tested in high crime areas before the National Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the product.
Though The Club is preventative, it also will not keep thieves out of your classic. As with the previous three, you will not be alerted to a thief entering your vehicle, so it is best used in conjunction with an alarm system. Also, adhering the club every single time you leave your car can get annoying and it can be suggested that many will use The Club less as time goes on. We couldn't find a car insurance company that gave a discount for using The Club as a form of security.
5. A Dog - Varying
So we might be stretching it a little bit here, but come on - what better security for your car, your home, and your family than an aggressive looking pup? Now we're not suggesting that you lock a dog in your car or that you bring one home as strictly a guard dog. That would be cruel (and illegal). All we're saying is that your author has two big German Shepherds and her classic has never been messed with. The Pros:
- It's preventative in that it deters and alerts to any kind of trespasser.
- It's the only security system we could find that could actually harm and/or catch the would-be thief.
- This system covers your home and your classic - no need to buy and install two separate operating systems.
- It operates on food and affection - a pretty cheap price to pay for a deluxe auto and home security system.
Sure, there are downsides, like any of the systems listed here, and you definitely won't get a break on your insurance. But at the end of the day, who doesn't love dogs (besides car thieves of course)? You're going to have to clean up after the pup, feed it, pay vet bills occasionally, and obviously take part in quite a few games of fetch, but dogs are pretty awesome to have around and your classic will be safely guarded. Go adopt your new best friend/security system today!
So there you have it - our top five security systems to protect your classic Mopar. Combine any of them with an annoying beeping car alarm and you've built yourself a pretty legitimate barrier between your baby and a criminal. You've officially been equipped with all the knowledge you need, so get out there and protect your investment.