Disguise Your Stuff to Prevent Car Break-ins
When my truck was broken into this winter, I decided to get a little savvier about the way I store my essential belongings and a little craftier at discouraging future break-ins. I’ve always tried to practice common-sense when leaving my vehicle unattended for long stretches of time; I never leave obviously valuable items in plain sight, I don’t have a deluxe car stereo system or other tempting electronics, and I try to park in well-lit areas. But pickups and hatchbacks are unique because without a trunk, nearly all the contents are visible from the outside, and this creates a veritable display case for would-be thieves. (See also: How to Get Your Car Stolen)
Since my truck has a canopy, I decided to embrace the "fishbowl effect" by creating a secret hiding place in plain sight. I took an old cardboard box that was about 18” wide and 22” tall and created a false top for it. I cut the false top from another piece of sturdy flat cardboard and made it roughly the same dimensions as the top opening of the box. Next I took miscellaneous scrap cardboard pieces from other boxes, folded them vertically, and stapled them to each other using a heavy-duty staple gun. I then attached the stapled pieces to the false top with hot glue.
The goal was to create a "cap" that looked as if the box was packed with scrap cardboard and paper destined for the recycling bin. The top sits about 3” deep inside the box and fits tightly enough to not shake off during normal travel. Finally, I labeled the box “Recycle” just to drive the point home.
Under the false top, I store my camping gear, a first aid kit, and a few car-repair tools. Once closed, it just looks like a box of old scrap paper and isn’t the least bit tempting to the suspicious passer-by.
The same idea would work by stacking newspapers on the false top and securing them in place with twine. I decided to not use aluminum recycling materials because aluminum might be more tempting to hardcore recyclers or potentially harder to identify as "junk" in the dark. The key is to make the box clearly identifiable as recycling without your efforts appearing too studied or deliberate. Expect the would-be thief to be peering in the window, and don’t give him a reason to be curious or to second-guess the contents of the box.
Of course, nothing can completely prevent car break-ins, but with a little planning and an afternoon project, maybe you can make your car the least attractive one on the block and skip the window-replacement bill.