Whether you need a bigger van because you’re moving or you need a vehicle for your weekend getaway, there are plenty of reasons why renting a car makes sense. However, like any car, it’s susceptible to theft and vandalism—the odds are just higher if people can tell it’s not yours.
Here are five tips to protect your car rental from either of those situations.
1. Get Insurance
Just like you have insurance for your own car and protection, you want to make sure you have insurance for a rental, regardless of how long you need the car for. It often includes collision insurance up to a certain limit, with options to include additional packages, such as baggage reimbursement.
Without insurance, your other safety efforts can unfortunately be in vain. Insurance provides coverage to protect you from damages, whether it’s because of an accident, stolen property, or vandalism-related. Check the declaration page of the rental vehicle to see what’s covered and protected. Comprehensive coverage ensures safety and protection, for you and the rental company.
2. Hide Any Valuables
If you choose to leave anything of value in the rental car, don’t leave it out in plain sight. Leaving expensive items lying around is a jackpot for thieves. Thieves peer into cars knowing people will slip up. That visible GPS, handbag, or even loose change is a temptation.
Less important items aren’t as appealing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Store items in the trunk so they’re out of sight or bring them in with you when you leave the car. Remove any electronic attachments, such as charging cables and cases. All of these items are dead giveaways that valuables are in the car, so they’re easy encouragement.
3. Lock the Car
Common sense isn’t always so common, meaning locking the car is an easy aspect most people forget to do. It’s easy for passersby to walk by cars, pulling handles until they get lucky. It only takes a second to hop in and search around. Whether you’ve parked the car for the day or just for a moment—keep your doors locked.
You’ll avoid potential theft issues just by keeping doors secured. If you’re getting out to grab a coffee or fully leaving for the afternoon, secure the vehicle. This includes any windows and sunroofs. Shut everything when you leave—even a crack can encourage break-ins: Avoid this altogether by locking the car as soon as everybody is out.
4. Check the Parking Area
If the car park looks sketchy, trust your gut. A parking lot that isn’t well-lit, that’s filled with debris, or has broken glass or other materials lying around means you’re better off parking somewhere else. It could be a sign of theft and increase the likelihood of vandalism occurring there.
Choose your space carefully. If it’s possible, consider parking in an underground garage or an alternatively safe nearby option. Cars parked on the street and on ground level are much more accessible. If an underground garage isn’t available, a clean, well-lit, and maintained lot is the next safest spot to leave the car.
5. Look “Local”
If you’re renting a car specifically because you are a tourist and need a way to get around, you don’t want your car to evoke a tourist vibe. It is important to blend into the scene, and some people suggest going as far as leaving local newspapers on the passenger seat.
Appearing as just another car in the neighbourhood makes you less of a target, where potential thieves will just keep moving on. The tourist trap is an easy grab because vandals know this car definitely isn’t from around here. Make the car look like it’s your own to keep it away from prying eyes.
Treat your rental car like you would your own to minimize the chance of theft and vandalism problems.