Here’s how to keep your family’s car safe when traveling during the summer

So, to help folks prepare for road trips this summer, WSMV4 put together a list of tips to help reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target for criminals.
To help people prepare for summer road trips, WSMV4 put together a list of tips to help reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target for criminals.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 5:14 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Almost a month into the summer travel season, and recent events in Nashville may have some families thinking twice about their safety when hitting the highway for vacation the next couple of months.

The news raising some concerns is the case of a Metro Nashville Police officer getting shot while pursuing a man on foot suspected of breaking into cars at a park and ride lot near Metropolitan Nashville Airport.

While the officer, four-year police veteran Donovan Coble survived, the suspect, 37-year-old Delama Casmir, who was allegedly armed and breaking into vehicles, died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot by a SWAT officer according to MNPD.

For some, the incident indicates that highly traveled spots, like airports, hotels and tourist stop parking lots may not be safe havens from crime.

So, to help folks prepare for road trips this summer, WSMV4 put together a list of tips to help reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target for criminals.

“When people are traveling, it seems like the vehicle is pretty much the least of our worries,” said Megan Cooper of AAA Tennessee. “But they really should be top of mind, just like the rest of our travel safety concerns.”

Cooper’s first tip to cut down on car theft and break-ins, even on sweltering hot days, when you park your vehicle on vacation, close open sunroofs, and cracked windows because any opening makes it easier for criminals to prey on your ride.

“It may help keep your car cool,” Cooper said, “but thieves really are looking for the path of least resistance. So, the best idea is always close your windows and sunroof all the way and lock the doors.”

A second tip, before you hit the highway, completely clean your car out on the inside. Brandon Valle, an insurance agent with State Farm, says that includes removing everything possible from the vehicle’s dash, console, and floorboards.

“If you have clutter in your car, that attracts attention,” Valle said. “And on vacation, when you’re on the road, keep the car clean then too. And never leave anything of value in the car that can be seen through the windows.”

That leads to the third tip, which relates to your luggage and other large items like golf clubs and camping equipment.

Valle says to take all your luggage inside your hotel at night, and if there are large items you cannot fit in your room, make sure to cover them up or lock them away in your trunk.

“It may seem like a chore and just easier to leave some of your things in the vehicle overnight, but it really is a matter of doing everything possible to not make yourself a target,” Valle said. “So, take the extra time and bring the luggage into the hotel.”

Cooper says that advice plays directly into the fourth tip for keeping your vehicle safe on summer vacation, which is always to park as close as possible to your destination.

“Make sure you’re parking in safe locations too, so well-lit areas,” said Cooper. “And if you’re parking at a hotel, consider valet parking, or parking as near to the front door as possible.”

Valle also suggests parking near sidewalks and areas that are highly trafficked when you stop at tourist stops or airport long-term parking.

“Typically, a thief is going to shy away from cars where people are likely to walk by at any moment,” said Vale. “Nothing is going to reduce your risk of a break-in 100 percent, but little steps like this help improve your odds.”

A fifth tip, never leave spare keys or fobs hidden anywhere on or in your car, because according to Valle thieves will look for these things when breaking into cars, and if they are left behind, your car is likely to be gone when you get back.

“Some people put them in their gas caps, we’ve heard of that, or an extra key or fob in the glove box,” Valle said. “Don’t do it, because you’ve just made yourself an easy target.”

A sixth tip, Cooper says to go through your car before vacation and remove any documents from the glove box and consoles that may have personal identity information.

“In the unfortunate event your car is broken into, if they find that information on letters, bank statements, or anything else, you’ve just opened yourself up to identity theft as well,” said Cooper. “So be careful. Take those extra steps.”

Finally, Cooper says the tried but true safety measures of car alarms and steering wheel locks remain two of the best tools for keeping your car safe while on the road.

“Plan ahead, and protect your car, so your vacation is as enjoyable as possible,” Cooper said.