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Minimize theft, vandalism

Vehicles that sit higher off the ground are especially attractive to these criminals. In fact, theft of auto parts
from vehicles garaged outside is an issue nationwide. In Maryland, auto thieves hit 23 vehicles in one week to
swipe their airbags — smashing windows and damaging doors, dashboards and steering wheels in the
process.
Patrons of your shop have a reasonable expectation that their vehicles will be protected while in your custody.
Have you taken measures to earn their trust and minimize theft?
Some garages fence off the area where vehicles will be parked overnight and keep the gate locked. Others
prefer to use security guards or a digital security system based on cameras, lighting, and alerts to a security
firm when motion detectors or other activity sensors are activated.

Basic security

Whatever method you choose, follow some basic security practices alongside it.

  • Keep your lot well lit.
  • Never leave keys in a vehicle or near a shop window.
  • Keep vehicle keys in a safe.
  • Make sure a manager’s phone number is posted and that person is accessible in an emergency.
  • Build good relationships with local police and invite them to use your lot when they need to park
    for a bit.
  • Instruct customers not to leave any valuables in their vehicles.

Posting a sign saying you are not responsible for stolen items isn’t likely to keep you out of court, so take the
extra measures to keep patrons’ property safe. Additionally, know which makes and models (or parts) are hot
in your area at the moment, and try to store those vehicles indoors.
Remember that car thieves are fast. A February 2020 video from Texas shows how it takes less than three
minutes to make off with a pickup.

Garagekeepers insurance

You should further protect your business with garagekeepers insurance coverage or another similar policy
that insures you against loss of or damage to property in your custody. This insurance is different from
garage liability, which covers bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident during operating hours
The garagekeepers policy is a separate coverage, not typically included under standard garage legal liability
policies. It protects your shop financially from theft of and vandalism to vehicles in your custody as well as
accidental damage, fire or a weather event.
It must be emphasized that this coverage doesn’t apply to the automobile’s contents, so an owner should not
leave valuable items in the vehicle when dropping it off for repairs. You can, for extra premium, add such
coverage if you think it’s worth the cost.
Remember, the best steps you can take are within your shop itself to prevent losses in the first place.
Safety and security are the two most important things auto shop owners can enforce to keep loss costs low.
Beyond reducing what you spend to deal with theft, you will also save on insurance because you will have a
better loss record. Your customers will be grateful, and you may have a healthier and happier workforce as
well.