August 27, 2002
Reality Check

Ok folks, I'm here to talk a bit about the World's Most Useless Invention. Yup, you guessed it... the car alarm. Putting a burglar alarm on something that is meant to move around is like handing out pornos at a Southern Baptist convention. Stupid and inappropriate.

There are three reasons a car gets broken into: to be cracked up for parts at a chop shop, to have its radio jacked, or to take a ride in. The guys who work for chop shops will usually save a step and buy themselves a tow truck. How many times have you seen a car being towed with its alarm blatting away like R2D2 on a bad acid trip? Did you do anything about it? Didn't think so.

Stereo jacking is more common amongst the teen moron crowd. Your whistleblatt snakecharmer 2000 might actually stop them from ripping the stereo out of your dash, but it won't stop them from bashing the window in to try. Ever wonder why you see so many cars around with trash bags duct-taped to a window? There isn't a car alarm made that will stop the good ol' mark-1 heavy rock.

The last reason is to take a ride. A New Jersey "waste management professional" needs a place to stuff a body, some dipwad kid needs to score some dope after his mom takes the keys to his, or some bangers need something a little less conspicuous than their current chopped-dropped-neon-purple-colored Honda HX (complete with Si stickers). Your car alarm might slow some of these people down, but again it's nothing that's going to stop them from trying.

And really, who would want to steal some of these cars? Cluebat time: if you own anything that cost less than $50,000, is more than 5 years old, has more than 2 doors, or has gone through three or more owners you got nothing to protect. I never will forget the time some mouth-breather's alarm shorted out in the parking lot at 3 am one Tuesday morning in my building's parking lot. When I look out my window, what do I see? A f***ing 1981 Datsun 280Z with two different colored fenders and a rust hole in one rocker.

And these cars were everywhere in my old neighborhood. Corollas, Civics, Saturns, Geos, Escorts... ten year old Toyota Minivans, would bark, howl, shriek, and fart throughout the night, every night, until they shorted out because the owner got their cousin to install it to save $20. You couldn't sleep with the windows open because of it.

The cold, hard truth is if someone really wants to steal your vehicle, there's not a goddamned thing you can do about it. And really, what the hell do you think insurance is for anyway? Want to keep your car safe? Take the keys out of the ignition. Simple as that. Keep valuables out of it, or out of sight at least, and you don't even really need to lock the damned thing*. If you've got a fancy radio get one you can yank the faceplate off, or put it behind a compartment lid or bezel, or just leave a bag or something in front of it.

Modern cars come with amazingly sophisticated anti-theft devices already built in. My wife lost the keys to our PT Cruiser and it took an hour and a half to get keys re-made that would actually start the car. Car alarms are now basically protection rackets to prey on the congenitally paranoid. Do us all a favor. Take the keys out, lock the doors if you must, and use the money you'd spend on that goon-b-gone mk. 5 to take your significant other to the fanciest restaurant in the city. Twice.

Trust me, the rewards will be far more pleasing, and maybe for once I'll get to sleep through the night.

Posted by scott at August 27, 2002 10:38 AM

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