Got a new GPS device mounted on your car’s dashboard or windshield? According to a report we found on AOL, you might as well be handing over your house keys to thieves! GPS devices are the portable units you see in many cars these days, which use maps and satellite signals to show a driver exactly where they are on the road. The devices have long been valuable to thieves, because a stolen GPS unit is worth about $100 on the street. They’re potentially worth much more to thieves if owners use the built-in “home” feature. That’s an emergency button you can program with your home address, which promises to give turn-by-turn directions back to your house - from any location – in case you get lost. Unfortunately, that “home” feature has led to a spike in what police are calling: “GPS-guided crime sprees.”

In a typical scenario, a thief will steal the GPS unit from a car parked at the mall. Then they’ll press the “home” button, and use the device to lead them directly to a bigger windfall. Police say thieves will be more inclined to rob your home if they steal your GPS device from a luxury car. The thinking is that if you can afford to drive an expensive car, you’ll probably have expensive stuff to steal at home too! It’s even better if they find a garage-door opener in your car, because that gives thieves an easy way to get into your home, without needing to break through a window or door. Knowing all this, how can you protect yourself from a GPS-guided crime spree?

  • Security experts say the most obvious way is to never program your address into a GPS unit. Instead, use an address on a nearby street. That way, you’ll still know how to get home – but the thieves will be lead on a wild goose chase.
  • Always remove your GPS unit when you leave your car. Either take it with you, or lock it in the glove compartment or trunk. That’s especially important to remember when leaving your car at the airport. Why? Thieves target cars parked at airports, and if they steal your GPS unit while you’re vacationing in Cancun, they’ll know they have plenty of time to rob your home before you get back.