What steps can I take to protect my car from vandalism?

Criminals don't want to be caught, so making the car and the perpetrator easier to see can reduce the likelihood of being targeted. If you're worried about car vandalism or catalytic converter theft, consider parking in a well-lit area away from crowds. If you're parking at home, you might install a security camera to monitor the car. Catching a car vandal on tape can make it easier to pursue legal action and may also be helpful when filing an insurance claim if you need to.

Making the car harder to get to or otherwise less appealing as a target can also discourage vandals. If your vehicle doesn't have a security system or alarm, consider installing one. If you can't afford an alarm, installing a simple blinking light that mimics a security system or putting security system stickers on the window that says the car is protected can still make criminals think twice.

Other ways to protect your car from vandalism include:

  • Parking in a covered, closed garage if you have access to one
  • Removing valuables from the car (or at least placing them out of sight in the trunk or glove compartment)
  • Varying your parking spots and times since routines make it easier for criminals to target you

What if I've been targeted repeatedly or suspect it's personal?

Home security cameras are great for helping you catch a vandal if you have a good place to put them, have a line of sight to the car, and always park at home. But what if your building won't let you install one? Or if you want protection while you're traveling or parking away from home? Car security cameras can help you catch someone vandalizing your car and may help you prevent vandalism as well.

Can a car security camera protect me from vandalism?

Car security cameras come in a variety of designs. Some can be installed to the rearview mirror like traffic cameras, while others are disguised as dash ornaments so as not to draw attention. If you're interested in protecting your car from vandalism with a security camera, you should consider getting two cameras and installing them so they face each other. Otherwise, you run the risk that the vandal will commit the crime off-camera.

Consider factors like the camera's field of view, battery requirements, motion-sensing abilities, and whether or not it has cloud backup. It's only useful if it's on, catches the criminal on tape, and stores the video somewhere you have access to it. Cloud backup, in particular, can be invaluable if the criminal decides to steal or damage the camera itself.

What should I do if my car is vandalized?

The first step is to document everything. Take pictures of all the damage and make a list of anything that was stolen. This will be helpful when filing a police report and an insurance claim. You'll want to collect any video footage you can, whether from your car security camera, a home security camera, or from nearby businesses that may have CCTV footage of the area where you were parked.

The next step is to file a police report. Police may not be able to perform a full investigation — especially if nothing was stolen and there isn't any video evidence — but filing the report won't hurt and is usually required before you can make a car insurance claim for vandalism.

The final steps depend on the extent and type of the damage and what kind of insurance you have. If you have comprehensive coverage, you'll be able to make a claim for vandalism on your auto insurance, which will cover damage to the car but may not cover items that have been stolen. Even if they were inside your car and off your property, theft of belongings is usually covered by property insurance. Contact your homeowners insurance or renters insurance provider to see if your belongings are covered.