Tips for Avoiding the Smash and Grab Theft Trend

So-called “smash and grab” car thefts have spiked in cities – particularly affluent areas – across the United States. But did you know there are steps you can take to protect your luxury car from such crimes?

From Los Angeles to San Francisco and from Denver to Washington, D.C. police have been responding to a growing number of thefts involving parked cars. It boils down to car windows being broken and valuables being taken from the vehicle.

And it happens quickly.

Thieves can quickly spot and snatch purses, other bags, electronics, and any number of other valuables from vehicles parked on the street or in parking lots and garages. These thieves use a blunt tool such as a baseball bat to break windshields and windows, then reach in and snatch items.

A Chicago family was targeted recently while visiting San Francisco. Several relatives, including two toddlers, were in the car when the break-in happened near Lombard Street – a popular tourist destination. It was particularly shocking in that it happened while adults and children were in the car. A bag was stolen, along with a computer, headphones, a passport, and the kids’ birth certificates, among other things. 

‘Smash and grab’ incidents happen in just a couple of seconds and are usually reported to police in sprees, often within the same area and the same time frame.

They mostly involve the criminal smashing the window and stealing all valuable possessions left out in the open. Tinted windows and locked doors do nothing to deter such criminals.

Here are some ideas on how you can protect your luxury car amidst this trend.

1.- Don’t leave anything valuable in your car. It should go without saying but you’d be surprised how often people leave valuables out in their car. This includes:

  • Purses
  • Backpacks
  • Laptops and tablets
  • GPS navigation device
  • Briefcases
  • Cell phones

2.- Park in well-lit areas close to the nearest buildings.

3. Install anti-theft alarm systems. (Call us today if we can help!)Please note: Not all systems can prevent this type of car break-in but they can at least put up a bump in the road.

Car owners have a wide range of OEM alarm and security options that can help prevent them from becoming a victim of a smash and grab.

Alarm systems have a computer-controlled unit that triggers the siren as needed.
Systems can include different types of sensors that detect when there’s a break-in. Those include:

Glass Break Sensors

These detect certain acoustic frequencies such as the noise of shattering glass.

Pressure Sensors

These detect changes in the air pressure inside your vehicle. So, if a window is broken – or your doors are forced open – the sensor will trigger some sort of alarm.

Motion Sensors

Some cars have systems that detect motion using ultrasonic waves. This is the perfect type of system to effectively alert car owners to break-ins and ‘smash and grab’ theft.

Just remember that not all the things that happen during the holiday season are cheery and bright.

The name “Smash-Grab” came from the exact actions thieves do to vehicles: They break a window (Smash) and take all the valuables they can as quickly as they can (Grab). 

Some of these perpetrators are experts and some are just minor-league vandals.
Most are casual opportunists.

So before you leave your car always make sure valuables are out of sight.

That means:

  • Phone 
  • Purse or wallet 
  • Laptop 
  • A briefcase 
  • Backpack 
  • Shopping bags filled with merchandise
  • Small electronics 
  • Cash and credit cards


  • Always lock your doors and roll up your windows
  • Activate your security alarm system
  • Consider window tinting
  • Don’t use the console or glove box as mobile lockboxes. They don’t work
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