More than 25,000 GPS devices are reported stolen from vehicles each year, making GPS among the items most frequently taken. Even worse, GPS thefts are often smash-a-window-and-grab style robberies, resulting in high repair costs and hassles for the vehicle owner. Unfortunately, even an armed car alarm doesn't stop this type of quick in-and-out theft. GPS thefts can and do happen in areas you might consider to be safe. In short, the quick $25 to $50 street value of a stolen GPS is a very tempting target for thieves, and a problem for car GPS users.
How to Prevent GPS Theft
1. Remove your GPS from its mounting point in your vehicle and take it along, or stow it completely out of sight. I don't often carry my GPS with me when I park my car, but I always make sure it is stowed out of sight. That includes the mounting bracket and power port cord. Windshield suction mounts are generally quick and easy to remove and re-mount.
2. Make sure there is no telltale GPS-mount suction cup ring on the inside of your windshield. Thieves are known to break into vehicles with visible rings on the windshield on the assumption there is a GPS inside. Two tips: If you keep the inside of your windshield clean by using glass cleaner and a soft rag on it once per week, it won't hold the residue that leaves the telltale suction cup ring. As a bonus, you'll be able to see out of your windshield better. Another tip is to carry a washable microfiber cloth (available in auto and home stores) in your vehicle to wipe off the ring.
3. Give yourself some extra incentive to take your GPS along by learning to use its pedestrian mode, if it has one. You may be surprised at how useful a GPS can be when you are on foot. Also, learn how to quickly set a waypoint on your GPS when you leave your car in a large parking lot or unfamiliar urban area. Take your GPS with you, and you will be able to quickly find your vehicle upon return. Some GPS makers offer a handy "find my car" feature that records a waypoint automatically when you power down the GPS.
Record and store the serial number of your GPS soon after purchase. You can often do this automatically as part of an online registration process while your GPS is connected to your PC by its USB cable.
Many GPS devices have a configurable "home" address button in the menu system. Do not set this for your home address. You don't want thieves to have this information, especially if they also have your garage door opener or other items that may be in your car, such as a house key. Set the "home" button for a familiar intersection or place of business near your home, and the convenient home feature will still serve you well without giving away private information.