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How to keep your Rental Car safe on the road
How to keep your Rental Car safe on the road

Travellers use their  rental cars in every imaginable way: as a place to eat meals, hide things, take shelter from the elements and even sleep.

Your car on hire can be almost your home away from home while travelling indeed. That's why you will want to take some precautions to protect it and the things inside it. In ideal, one wouldn't leave anything valuable in his hired car at all. However,the reality of travelling is that the rental car is going to be like a safe deposit box or luggage storage locker as well as a transport -- especially during the day when one is on the road. 

We hope the following nine tips will help you to protect your car on hire and everything in it while travelling.

1. Load and hide your things before you reach your destination.

By the time you pull into a hotel lot, valet queue, parking garage or any parking spot, everything you plan to leave in the rental car should already be well stowed and hidden. 

To take your most valuable things and pack them in the trunk after you have stopped at a parking place, means to show anyone in sight exactly where to focus their attentions if they want to rob you. The best approach is to put your things in the trunk or other safe compartment before you even get into the hired car at the beginning of your trip.

2. Unload your things away from your parking spaces as well.

Similarly, if you are planning to return to the same parking area, you should take your things out of the car for rent away from the place if possible. If you open the trunk and take out all your belongings each time you return to your rent car, eventually someone will notice. The best way is to be able to pull over somewhere safe away from either your home or destination, and get your things then.

3. Choose your parking space wisely.

Here are some recommendations for your best parking spots when travelling:

A) In airport parking lots, park in view of the exit toll booths or parking office if possible, or just as well within view of a shuttle pickup location or stand. The increased foot traffic and eyeball count will discourage potential thieves. Well-lit areas are next best; most airport lots have surveillance cameras in place, so making it easier for an attendant to see your rental car on a grainy camera will help.

B) Park "trunk out". If you are keeping things in your trunk, you will want to point the trunk out into the lot passage, where more people can see anyone trying to break in. Don't give thieves the opportunity to use your car on hire as cover while robbing you.

C) When parking in the street, try to park within sight of a busy store or hotel entrance, under a street lamp, near a busy corner or out in the open away from things that might provide shelter to a thief (like thick or low-hanging trees). The busier the street, the better.

4. When in doubt, use a parking garage.

Parking on the street is the most defenseless place to be, so if you are uncomfortable with your street parking options, by all means use a parking garage instead. Although you are safer in a parking garage, that does not mean that you are invulnerable; certainly enough travellers get ripped off by garage personnel everywhere. Remove or lock up any really valuable items -- GPS units, accessories for your cell phone or MP3 player, a loose E-ZPass apparatus -- in order to take temptation away. All of the same precautions above apply; no matter where you park, make it as difficult and uninspiring to potential thieves as possible.

5. Self park when you can.

Most attendant or valet parking garages are safe on the whole -- but if you make it too easy, the temptation to steal can be too great for a person working at or near minimum wage.

6. Suppose thieves want to steal your hired car.

It turns out that most thieves will try to steal a car hire outright rather than break into a car; if there is anything valuable inside, they can take it and dump the vehicle, and certainly there is a market for hot cars as well. For this reason, parking your rental car in a well-lit place where there is likely to be some foot traffic is always a good idea. Similarly, visual cues that might restrain a thief can be critical -- even if they are just for show. Things like a steering wheel lock or a blinking alarm system light will encourage thieves to move on to the next vehicle, even if the alarm is not activated.

7. A neat car on hire is less likely to get robbed.

A car on hire that is filled with jackets or beach towels that appear to be covering items of value, or that has wires sticking out here and there suggesting that electronic devices may also be stored, are much more likely to attract interest. If a potential thief sees nothing but car upholstery, he or she is less likely to be curious about what might be hidden in the hired car.

8. Check for your valuable things as soon as you return to your car on hire.

Notwithstanding our second rule above, if you have any suspicions, you will want to make sure nothing was stolen before you set out. If your car on hire does get ripped off, you want to figure it out at or near the location it was robbed, in case you have to file a complaint. When examining your vehicle, keep in mind that thieves know what to take -- often items you won't notice until you are long gone. For example, a common tactic is to take a camera out of a camera bag, but leave the bag behind; it looks like it was undisturbed so you won't figure it out for hours or days.

9. Rent wisely.

When renting a car keep the following tips in mind:

A) Rent car models that are not easily opened or broken into, and that have a trunk big enough to store anything you need secured. A fashionable and tiny convertible sounds like a great idea, but it could not be harder to hide stuff, and easier to break into.

B) The more modest and nondescript the rental car model, the less likely to attract attention it is.

C) Don't leave your rental contract in the hired car, as this document has just about all the information you will need if the car on hire is stolen -- and also all the information a thief will need to escape detection if he or she is stopped for any reason before you report the automobile as stolen.

 

Remember that as a traveller or tourist, you are a mark. Making the time and effort to take a few precautions with your vehicular home away from home can help ensure that you and all your things return home intact

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