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Proper car care can prevent thievery

Jan. 25, 2001

Throughout my three years at Baylor, I have had great misfortune: I have had two bikes stolen, two car windows shattered, my truck broken into and my backpack removed. I've also had two accidents and most recently, my truck was stolen and found three days later stripped of everything, including my six-CD changer, pictures from summer vacation, and my favorite chili-cheese dip I kept in the glove box.

When I found out about the chili cheese dip, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. As a result of my bad luck, I have become somewhat of an expert on auto theft prevention and repair.

Two of the first items targeted in theft are CDs and CD players. This problem is solved by eliminating the CD player. Personally, I am a fan of eight- track tapes and AM radio, which can be quite entertaining given the chance. In Waco, you can tune in to 1460 AM. If you insist on having a CD player, get a detachable face and, for the love of Pete, don't keep it in the glove box. CDs are also popular items among thieves. Don't leave your CDs in your car unless you only listen to Lyle Lovett or the current selection of boy bands. No sane person will steal these unless it's a crazed and confused Collins girl.

Car alarms are great deterrents. Unfortunately, they all seem to sound the same, so people hardly pay attention to them anymore. What is necessary is something with flashing lights, high voltage and a variety of unusual sounds, sirens or witty phrases to grab the attention of passersby. Among my favorites are 'Sounds of the Jungle,' 'Screaming women' and 'Step away from the vehicle or you will die screaming.' Speaking of death, if the fear of your car being stolen is real and consuming, I suggest getting a battery with a kill switch. If you don't want your windows broken, don't lock your doors.

My truck was stolen my first night back from the summer. There were very few cars in the parking lot and even less traffic on the adjoining street. There was also almost no lighting. Circumstances such as these are to be avoided if at all possible. If your car is parked in a dark and lonely parking lot, move it. The process is not too difficult and could save you a huge headache.

If all of these prevention techniques fail, or you have the misfortune of getting into a fender bender, here are a few guidelines.

First, never go to a repair shop that only takes cash. Use your head on that one. Second, if the shop looks like a dump, it probably is. The phrase 'Don't judge a book by its cover does not apply here.

Third, always get a signed, specific work order and a receipt of payment. If you give the mechanic carte blanche, you will come back with a new transmission when all you needed was a fender replaced. Fourth, do not go to the dealership unless your father is the unquestioned ruler of a small oil-producing country. Lastly, use your resources. Church members or even Baylor DPS officers know of quality repair shops with good reputations.

Basically, if you don't want your car bothered, either get out of Waco or remove the chili cheese dip from the dash of your car.

BLAKE LASLEY

Cartoonist