If you’re traveling for business or a vacation, you might be leaving a car at the airport for several weeks or more. You want to make sure it’s safe, right?

While some long-term parking lots at airports are attended, others aren’t. Even the ones that are don’t have an attendant standing by your vehicle 24/7. Frankly, that leaves cars vulnerable to theft.

How do you make sure your car is protected?

Enact a plan for protection. Remember, theft is an opportunity crime.

Car thieves, unfortunately, are always among us. But they are most prone to move against vehicles that are less defended. If your car is very far from the parking attendant station, for example, it might simply be easier to steal than if it were one of the cars right next to the station.

Here’s the protection plan:

Lock Your Car

Yes, we know this is incredibly obvious. But we also know that, in the excitement and flurry of leaving, some people forget. If a would-be thief finds an unlocked car, it’s gone in 60 seconds.

Don’t Leave an Extra Key in the Car

Some people have a false sense of security. They figure if the car is locked and in a public lot, it’s OK. So they might be tempted to leave an extra key in the glove compartment or under the mat, just in case they misplace the key as they travel. Well, here’s some news. Cars are not that hard to break into. Thieves know that some folks leave keys in certain places. They look there. Again, gone in 60 seconds.

Remove All Valuables

Just as theft is a crime of opportunity, it’s also a crime of getting the biggest bang for the buck. Thieves are often out to steal the greatest amount of goods-for-money they can get. If you have CDs, clothes, high-end tech gear or other valuables in your car, it makes the vehicle all that more tempting as a target.

Park in a Well-Traveled Place

Now we come to strategic thinking. Thieves will be deterred more if someone might see them breaking into your car. So in a lot, you want to park as close as possible to the attendant’s station. If you have a choice, you want to park as close as possible to a place people congregate: waiting spaces for airport vans, hotel and terminal shuttles are all good.

Park in a Well-Lit Space

When night falls, most people disperse. Even if you’re parked in a place with the maximum number of people, you also need to make sure the area is well-lit. Look for the large lights in parking areas, and make a beeline for them. This is true, of course, if you aren’t able to park in a place that’s well-traveled.

Park With the Fuel Door Facing Outward

Believe it or not, some thieves specifically target gas, siphoning off gas from cars in long-term parking. To deter this, always park where not just your car, but ideally your fuel door, is clearly visible to parking attendants or passersby.

Invest in Anti-Theft Equipment

Some devices will lock your gas tank. If thieves break into the car, they will not be able to open the gas tank — or, for that matter, drive the car away. There are also devices that lock the driver wheel, so, again, a thief might get into your car, but couldn’t drive it. Both are serious anti-theft deterrents and relatively inexpensive. Consider purchasing these for added peace of mind.

Cars in long-term airport parking may be subject to theft. These seven methods will help you avoid coming home to a car that’s not there.

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Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington and is an automotive journalist who has written for dozens of auto sites, including Yahoo Autos, Hooniverse, GT Spirit, The Mustang Source, and more. Scott's website, www.OffTheThrottle.com, and YouTube channel are popular automotive destinations.

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