wallet in car

Leaving These 14 Items in Your Car Makes It an Easy Target for Theft

The number of stolen vehicles has recently increased, tipping over 1 million a year. While nothing is guaranteed, there are many ways to prevent thieves from targeting your car in the first place. Leaving valuable items in your vehicle is a quick way to tempt a thief into breaking into your car and seeing what they can get away with grabbing. Here are some top items you should never leave in the car if you want to keep thieves out. 


key fob
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Car keys or house keys should never be left in a car. For one thing, you’d lock yourself out of your vehicle. But when a thief has access to the car and house keys, they can take your car and potentially find your house to locate more goodies. Then, you would have to contact your auto and home insurance, among other tasks. Always keep keys in your pocket or around your neck. 


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Prescription medications should never be left in a vehicle, as they can attract thieves who want to use or sell them. Even over-the-counter medications can attract thieves. If you need medication in the car, such as an EpiPen or insulin, ensure it is stored in the cabin or glove box with a cool-pack. 

Purses and Wallets

wallet in car
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Purses and wallets to thieves are like moths to flames. They’ll be happy to see how much money you have in either. Even if you don’t have much cash, credit and debit cards and gift cards), wallets and purses are still a big draw for a thief if it is a valuable or luxury brand. 

Credit or Debit Cards

credit card stack
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Whether they’re in a wallet or purse or sitting out in the car, a stolen credit card can cause many headaches for you. A stolen debit card could cause more significant issues, allowing thieves to drain your checking account and all your accounts. Even if you’re going into a place for “just a second,” it’s not worth the headache. 

ID Cards

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ID cards like driver’s licenses, passports, and similar identification can attract thieves who want to steal your identity. Assuming your ID cards are near a wallet or purse, they’ll also be quick to check those out. Keep IDs on your body or in another secure location that thieves can’t find. 


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Even if it’s a bag of junk you’re clearing out, that may not be obvious to a thief. A thief’s priority is to rummage through anything that looks valuable or could have valuable items hidden beneath, making donation bags a perfect target

So, while it may not be valuable to you and not a big deal if someone takes them, there’s still the issue of them damaging the car just to see what’s inside. Then you have broken glass and junk to haul away. 

Garage Door Opener

garage door opener
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Like house keys, garage door openers invite thieves to steal what’s in your car and what’s at your house. Keep them hidden in a glove compartment, purse, or pocket when out and about. Afraid you’ll accidentally leave them in your pants pocket? Attach them to a lanyard and keep it around your neck. 


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Fake or real jewelry can both be a target for thieves when left in a car. The difference between your faux silver ring sitting out in the cup holder or your genuine gold necklace isn’t distinguishable to a thief through the window; a thief will smash it to take both. 

Cash and Coins

cash and coins
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It’s common for people to keep cash and coins in the car. Some tolls still only take coins and money is always handy for when you go to a “cash only” event. It’s okay to keep emergency cash in your vehicle but limit it to a small amount and keep it in the glove box for safekeeping. Out of sight, out of mind! 

Shopping Bags

Shopping Bag
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Your shopping haul is a one-stop shop for burglars. Leaving any shopping bag in your car can invite anyone to check out your shopping spree for themselves. Newly purchased items can attract thieves who want to resell your items or have them for themselves. If you’re making multiple trips, keep your shopping bags in the trunk until you are home. 

Sports Equipment

Sports Equipment
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It’s easy to leave your gym or sports gear in the car. But sports equipment, especially brand-name gear and gym bags, can attract thieves. The yoga mat you keep for your morning classes should stay in the trunk, out of sight. If you don’t, you may see your good golf clubs and nice workout clothes listed on eBay. 

Important Documents

social security card
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Heading out in the morning to notarize your will? Or are you bringing your birth certificate and social security card somewhere to verify your identity? Make it your only stop before you head home. Essential documents you own should be kept out of sight and preferably at home in the safe. 

Cell Phones

Happy couple taking selfie in new car, sitting on back seats, copy space
Image Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.

Cell phones are the ultimate hub for your personal information. Once thieves have gotten your info, they may be able to steal your identity, use your online payment methods and flip your phone to grab some extra money. If you have an online banking app, it will leave your banking information compromised. 


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Like cell phones, tablets, and laptops are big targets for thieves who can flip them for quick cash. So are the new video game consoles you have picked up from the store (even older ones). All electronics should be by your side, safe in your house, or kept in the trunk until you get home.

Author: Gretchen Gales


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Gretchen Gales is a freelance writer, the executive editor of Quail Bell Magazine, and the author of the poetry chapbook Agora. Writing for nearly a decade, her work has appeared in Business Insider, Next Avenue, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and others. Gretchen has also been interviewed for Her Campus as part of their “How She Got There” series and an interview with the popular website Dear English Major. 

Gretchen, a knowledge geek and educator, loves breaking down complicated concepts into something everyone can understand and enjoy. A Jill of all (Writing) Trades, there aren’t many topics she hasn’t written about. 


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