Sheriff's office gives tips on vehicle theft prevention

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After eight years on the decline vehicle theft is making a comeback.

Experts say common sense and several layers of security can go a long way when it comes to protecting your vehicle.

Here are some helpful tips that'll keep your four wheels right where you left them.

According to consumer reports, a vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds in the US. July and August are the top two months for that to happen.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, 40 to 50 percent of those thefts could've been prevented by the owner.

Major Jim Brady with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office says, "The easiest things you can do in this situation don't cost anything."

The most popular items that attract thieves are the air bags, the engine, GPS Navigation Systems, the transmission, radios, IPods, laptops and purses.

"If they don't steal the car itself, again it's making it a target for those who would want to steal something," says Major Brady.

You can help thieves avoid temptation by storing valuables and electronics out of sight this includes all adapters and chargers.

Lock your car, never leave your car running unattended, always take your keys with you and don't hide your spare keys in the car or in hiding spots.

"Do what we call create a harden target, meaning making it less desirable and more difficult for someone to steal something," says Major Brady.

Keep windows closed and keep your vehicle registration in your wallet not in the car.

A car is safer in a locked garage than anywhere else but if you don't have one park your car in your driveway facing the street. If you have to park on the street make sure to turn the front wheels towards the curb and put the emergency brake on.

Major Brady says, "People who are trying to steal something, operate or want to operate in anonymity. They don't want people knowing what they are doing. They don't want people to see what's going on; he goes onto say drivers should "park in well light areas and well traveled areas."

Boosting cars has become tougher as automakers add tracking devices and anti-theft technology, like smart keys or engine immobilizers. Thieves are less likely to steal a car they cannot start.

"Now there are some other things that you can do that cost some money. Programs like Onstar ... low jack. Those systems they're probably more designed to locate the vehicle after it's been stolen," says Major Brady.

Active devices, like car alarms can't guarantee your car's security but it can help detour thieves.

The goal is to make your car less desirable than someone else's.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says only half of the vehicles that are stolen are ever recovered.