How to Prevent GPS Theft

A car air vent mount is perfect to deter theft of your GPSSo we’re eating dinner at a local restaurant on Route 46 in Northern New Jersey.  We leave after a 90 minutes meal to find a bunch of glass all over the parking lot.  I look at my car to find the passenger window smashed, my GPS stolen and the glove box all over the floor of the car.  I remember walking into the restaurant and several people from the kitchen staff were outside smoking and checking us out.  This is New Jersey and that’s the way the state rolls so I didn’t think anything about it at the time.  When the local police arrived, he mentioned to me this happens a lot at this restaurant and said they typically involve GPS or smartphones left in plain sight.  I mentioned the audience that we had encountered upon arrival and he said that’s probably a good theory but would not offer additional assistance in figuring this out.  I spoke to the restaurant management who were of absolutely no help.

Well needless to say I never went back to this restaurant and in fact, a short few months later, they went out of business.  The financial loss from the theft was less than $500.  The side window needed to be replaced, they stole my Garmin GPS and a few other small items from the glove box.  I did pick up a few tips on how to avoid this happening again in the future, from the police officer as well as some further investigation on my part.  Some of it is common sense stuff.

The police officer told me that marks on your windshield from a GPS or phone suction cup mount is a common way for thieves to figure out if something good was hidden in the glove box.  Indeed, when you looked at my front windshield there was an obvious round mark from my suction cup.  So even though you might be doing the right thing by removing the GPS and mount and placing it in the glove box, that mark on your windshield is a clear indication that there’s something in the glove box, or at least there might be.  The term “might be” is enough for a thief to take a few minutes to knock out your car window and check, thereby costing you a few hundred dollars minimum for a new window.

So, how do you get around that?  Don’t use a windshield suction cup mount.  Although I used a suction cup, I always recommend vent mounts because they keep the device away from plain sight.  We wrote a detailed article on vent mounts that can be read here.  Another good option is a dashboard mount as long as you remember to put it away before getting out of your car.  We also wrote a good article on dashboard mounts that can be found here.  A third location that works well is a cup holder mount as long as you have a spare and that article can be found here.  One other tip to pass on is that if you are going to put the GPS in the glove box, don’t forget to also remove the charger and put that away too.

Another good idea is something that I call the “hat trick”.  Remember the dashboard mount that I just mentioned?  If you don’t feel like putting it away in your glove box every time you get out of the car, just throw a hat over it.  I doubt someone is going to break in to steal a hat.  Use a Mets cap, absolutely nobody would break in to steal a Mets cap (I am a devout Mets fan of over 40 years so can make these jokes).

Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:

PhotoManufacturerDescriptionAmazon Link

GarminGarmin bean bag mount with standard 17mm ball to fit the socket on the back of the cradleGarmin Portable Friction Mount

GarminGarmin vent mount with 17mm ball to fit the socket on the back of the cradleGarmin Vent Mount

ArkonArkon cup holder mount with 17mm ball to fit the socket on the back of the cradleArkon GPS Cup Holder Mount