By Jeff Barker, contributing writer
You have way too much invested in your truck and belongings to walk away with a false sense of security that they will be OK in the lot.
Taking preventive measures can lessen the chances of your coming back to missing parts or a cab that’s been broken into. Whether you’re parking your truck for a few minutes or for several days, you can reduce the likelihood of theft.
Leaving your truck unattended – even for just a short time – can be unnerving. It’s easy to worry about valuable personal effects or worse yet, the entire truck, trailer, and a load being stolen.
It’s a tough economy where people are resorting to desperate and illegal measures to make a few bucks by breaking into vehicles and stealing stuff they can sell at pawn shops, in truck stops, or on the street.
Another concern is the growing underground market for truck parts, especially emission-compliant engines and auxiliary power units that are in high demand in places like California where entire trucks are often stolen and stripped of valuable parts that can be resold.
Idling trucks left unlocked – even as close as the fuel islands – can easily be stolen in a few minutes while you’re inside. Don’t think your dog is the perfect theft deterrent. Dogs can be subdued and removed from the cab before the truck is driven away.
The best policy is to shut the engine off, remove the keys, install a brake valve lock, and lock the door before leaving.
If you have a pet or a co-driver who is resting in the bunk and climate control is needed, the truck can be left idling with a brake valve lock in place. These can be secured over the brake knobs in just a few seconds and removed easily with the key once you’re back in the cab. They are a great visual theft deterrent.
If you’re parked for any longer period of time, be sure everything of value is hidden from view outside of the cab. Jewelry, iPods, money, CB radios, GPS units, cell phones, and laptop computers should never be in plain view to entice a would-be thief. If your in-cab stereo has a detachable face then remove and hide it. Out of sight, out of mind is the idea here.
Going away for a while?
There are times when you have to park your truck for several days. Whether it’s for a family vacation or other long-term occasions, you can take steps to ensure the truck will be intact when you return.
First, take into consideration where the truck will be parked. Is it a fenced-in area that’s lit and attended by a guard? Is it a legal place to park? If it’s at your home, will your neighbors be able and willing to keep an eye on it for you? If you’re a company driver or an owner-operator leased to a company, it might not be a bad idea to park the truck at their terminal if it’s close to home and a safe location.
Parking at a truck stop for a long duration isn’t the best idea as the chances of theft are high.
Once you’re parked, remove anything of value from inside the cab. If you’re a flatbedder, then store that load securement equipment at home or another safe location.
If you have your own trailer, disconnect from it and park the truck with the hood facing the front of the trailer close enough that the hood cannot be raised. This will reduce the possibility of someone stealing expensive parts from the engine compartment. This will also make it harder for someone to toss a brick through the windshield from over a nearby fence.
If you have a cabover tractor, you may be able to install a good chain and lock to keep the cab from being raised.
Once your truck is parked, install a brake valve lock; then disconnect and remove the batteries. Place a curtain around the windshield and side windows inside the cab. Loop chains or cables through the holes in your steer axle and drive axle wheels and around the frame to serve as another theft deterrent. Remove any expensive antennas.
If your truck has an APU or other expensive frame-mounted components like toolboxes, try to locate some tamper-proof nuts that need a special socket or key for removal. McGard, a manufacturer of locking lug nuts and other anti-theft hardware, will likely have them in the thread size you need. You should also use them if your truck has externally mounted air cleaners. LL
Jeff Barker is an OOIDA member and a former certified diesel mechanic. He can be reached