Why Memorial Day is a holiday for car thieves, too

And some advice that will help prevent you from becoming a victim.

Go ahead, enjoy your barbecue. But lock your car in a safe place, because Memorial Day is the second-worst day of the year for car theft. Or second best if you are a thief.

Why Memorial Day? One reason is that people tend to vacation over the long weekend or spend all day at the beach or a party, often leaving their vehicles in strange places. They also inadvertently forget to lock their doors, leave their windows down, or even leave an extra key lying around just waiting to be found.

Here is some advice about how to cut down your chances of being without a car by day's end.

1. Especially if you think you might have some drinks, and the party is in an unfamiliar neighborhood, take a cab to and from your holiday party, rather than leaving your car at your destination and cabbing it home.

2. Always park in a well-lit, populated area, such as a busy parking lot or secure garage. Not only is this safer for your car, but it is also safer for you walking to and from it. Don't assume the leafy suburban street is a safe spot. They're a favorite of car thieves.

3. Double check that your doors are locked and windows are rolled up, and never leave an extra key in or around your car. If you plan to leave your car all day, consider unhooking the car's battery cables.

4. Do not store anything of value in your car. Not only is it an open invitation for crooks, but car insurance won't cover these items if they're stolen.

5. Think about installing a GPS-enabled device that can instantly track your car if you're one of the unlucky ones and your car is stolen. Not only can this reduce your insurance premium, but modern devices allow you to find your car in the process of being stolen, rather than after it's been stripped for parts. Services like GM's OnStar, which come built into the car but require a monthly fee, can accomplish the same thing.

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