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How to Protect Car Audio From Being Stolen?

Having car audio stolen is the worst nightmare for everyone who enjoys listening to favorite music while driving a car.

Although stereo theft has decreased over the last decade because of many factory radios being part of the dashboard and factory audio systems are low quality, it is still a big problem for owners of customized aftermarket car audio systems. So, what can you do to protect car radios from theft?

As a general rule, to protect car audio from being stolen, install a professional car security system and onboard camera. Top-quality systems will not only discourage theft but you will be contacted remotely with an alert that a break-in to your car has occurred. Another and more affordable way to protect car audio is to tint the windows to help hide radio or speakers inside the car.

As an Amazon Associate, ImproveCarAudio will receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links in this article.

In the article below, I will go in detail through these and other ways of protecting the installed car audio system.

Why Are Car Radios Being Stolen?

Any electronic equipment that has value is at the risk of being stolen, and this includes car audio systems, especially top-class head units that are easiest to remove in a short time.

Thieves can easily remove most car stereos from the dashboard in a couple of minutes, and without making any noise. Typical car alarms are useful for bringing attention to possible car theft. Unfortunately experienced stereo thieves have no problem breaking a window and steal the stereo within seconds, even while the alarm is going off.

Especially thieves that specialize in car audio can steal them in literally seconds from the moment of the breaking to the car.

how to protect car audio

While demand for factory car stereos has lowered over the last years, the expensive aftermarket radios, speakers, or amplifiers, can still be sold for a hefty price. They make thieves a lot of money.

What to Do When Car Audio Gets Stolen?

Although technology improves daily and we have better possibilities to track any equipment we want, most car audio systems do not have installed trackers, and it is extremely difficult to trace a stolen car stereo.

Head units that have high demand can be sold online, or within friends in no time.

Calling the Police and reporting the theft is recommended, but it does not mean you will get your stolen radio back. Unless the car audio system was really expensive and stealing it caused other damages to the car, there is a little chance that your radio will end up on the top of the Police’s priority list.

Reporting that your car audio was stolen to the Police is mandatory if you have your car sound system insured. In such cases, insurance providers require that such an incident was officially reported.

When your car audio gets stolen, it can cause costly damage and lower your car’s value. In this case, you will have to file a police report and a car insurance claims, and also have to go through the hassle of getting your vehicle repaired and car audio system replaced.

stolen car audio

How to Prevent Your Car Stereo From Being Stolen?

Car audio systems are expensive, and they have huge resale value on the black market. A professional thieves can quickly remove radio systems from your car, without taking the vehicle itself and without bothering about the alarm noise.

They know that yy the time you reach your car, they will be off with the radio. The more expensive your radio is, the higher risk you have of being a car radio theft victim.

When you are wondering how to protect car audio from being stolen, below are several options to reduce the risk, and not everyone is expensive, some are just common sense.

Always lock your car

Every time you leave the car, check doors and windows to make sure they are properly closed and locked. Not locked windows encourage thieves to target your stereo or other possessions in the vehicle.

Although it sounds obvious, many people are trying to find the best technology that will protect car audio from being stolen, and at the same time keep leaving their vehicles open when they are not around.

During the hot summer days, I am sure you might want to leave the window slightly open, thinking it is safe, even in the crowded area. Unfortunately, this will make your vehicle more vulnerable as someone could pull a string or a wire through the window and enter your car in a few seconds.

Your best is to keep doors locked and the windows up when you are not in the car, even when you are coming back in a few minutes. These few minutes it is the perfect time for a thieve to get in your car, remove a car stereo and disappear.

Park Your Car in a Secured Area

When parking your car, try to find a spot in a secured carpark or well-lit areas with a lot of foot traffic. Thieves prefer to target vehicles with a minimal chance of being seen or caught, so all cars parked in dark spots, or are isolated from the public traffic are more likely to suffer break-ins.

A thief would always target a hidden vehicle that makes him feel safe and reduces the chance of getting caught. Also, avoid parking your car close to trucks, dumpsters, vans, and other large objects that can hide your car from the public.

Ensure that the parking space where you are parking your vehicle does not require you to leave your keys inside. Even if you do so, use valet services that take full responsibility for your car and its contents. Security cameras and on-site security guards are a great addition as well.

Choosing the right place to park your car is extremely important to prevent your car radio from being stolen. When parking at home, it’s best to park indoors if you have a garage, and If not, try to park as close as you can to your home.

If the alarm goes off or someone tries to smash the window, you will have a greater chance of hearing it happen. And most importantly, never leave the engine running while you are inside your home or making a quick stop.

But often we do not have much choice when picking parking lot, mostly when we leave the car in a busy place for a long time. To make a choice easier, it is sometimes better to go from home 10 minutes earlier and find a better place to park.

protect car radio

Keep the Stock Radio in the Car

If your head unit works well and you like the sound quality, you do not have to replace it with an aftermarket model. Factory radios are rarely on high demand, and they do not have much resale value because they are unique to the particular car model, so stealing such stock radio may not be worth the effort.

The problem is when the original stock radio doesn’t have a high sound quality, and you have to replace it, and it is a personal choice. If you are willing to replace the car radio with the better one, you should consider its extra protection.

Install a Retractable Head Unit

Radios with retractable screens, also known as flip-out radios, are excellent options if you want to have a high-quality radio that looks like the standard 1-din head unit.

As soon as you are finished listening to music, the unit will retract inside the dashboard, making the radio undetectable.

With a hidden screen, your radio does not look like you have installed something unique and can move thief’s interest onto something else.

A great example of a retractable head unit is the Pioneer AVH 3400NEX. I use this radio and never had a single problem with its functionality or flipping screen. It is available on Amazon, and if you are interested, click this link and check the current price.

pioneer awh-3400nex

Use Car Radio That Is Secured By Code

You can buy many car radios with combinations of various security codes. Security code means that you cannot play the radio before entering a code into the system.

It also means such radio is useless for someone that does not have a code, and although there are ways to unlock the radio, it requires time and effort to reset car audio without code.

Nevertheless, not all thieves may be aware of coding and steal the unit regardless.

Install Head Unit With Removable Face

When replacing the factory radio with the aftermarket, search for the head unit with a removable face. Whenever you leave your car, take the front panel with you, and from outside, the head unit will not look like a radio at all.

Why do car stereos have removable faceplates? Without the face, the head unit in your vehicle is useless for the thieves, and it cannot be sold.

Remember never to leave the face panel in the glove box or anywhere else in the car, because thieves know to look in them.

Consider Tinting the Windows

The best way to keep thieves away from your car’s interior, is not allowing them to look through the window. If they don’t know what’s inside, they may not take the risk to break in for nothing.

Tinted windows help prevent thieves from seeing what kind of car audio and the head unit you have in the car. Tinted window film it is not expensive and easy to install. All you need to do is press it on the window, and you do not even need to remove the windows.

Adding window tint does not only make it difficult to see inside your vehicle but also provides another degree of protection. Also, tinted windows are more difficult to shatter, especially when you use acrylic shatter-proof anti-theft film or tint.

If you want a perfectly designed film for your window, great quality offers LEXEN Computer Pre-Cut Window Film. It makes outstanding quality and is available on Amazon. If you would like to try it, click the link and check the latest price.

LEXEN can be ordered in size matching your car, so you do not have to trim. Also, you can choose a different shade to better fit your car’s design. I have installed in my Ford Edge film with 20% shade and it works perfectly.

tinted windows protect car radio

Do Not Put Branded Stickers on the Car

Avoid putting brand stickers on your car. If you have a nice stereo from a quality brand like Pioneer or Kenwood, you may want to show everyone what you have. Unfortunately, by doing so, you may gain nothing more but thieves’ interest.

Any extra exposure will attract attention, and many thieves are aware that it’s the people with expensive systems who place brand stickers, not those with factory audios.

Cover Trunk Area With a Not Transparent Tonneau Cover

Although covering trunk has not much to do with a head unit, you do not want everyone to see which amplifier and subwoofer you have unless you are attending the competition.

Many cars with installed amplifiers and subwoofers can be heard from a long distance, but not everyone has to have a trunk area open to the public. If they have, it may attract unnecessary attention, especially if the sounds produced are really good.

The best is to cover the trunk with a not transparent tonneau cover. Aside from protecting against theft, the cover also protests amplifiers and speakers from the sunlight and prevents overheating.

Install a Professional Car Anti-Theft System

Professionally installed car security system is the best way to protect the car from break-ins and staling audio system. The anti-theft system will not only discourage theft, but many advanced alarms will also contact you remotely in the case when a break-in has occurred.

Today’s high-tech automotive security systems are designed to deter break-ins as well as vehicle theft. Even if professional thieves don’t care about the alarms, they can prevent a large percentage of amateur burglars.

Make sure your alarm is working correctly. When it is not set-up properly, from one hand, it may not send audible signals in dire situations, while on the other hand, it can start making noise even with the smallest noticed motion.

Install an Onboard Camera With 24/7 Recording

Cameras that automatically start recording when someone gets close to the parked car from any direction are great devices to monitor any movements around the parked car.

Typical cameras recording when you drive, but these with active monitoring while the car is parked will not only show you if anyone was trying to break in into the vehicle but also if any damage to the vehicle has occurred.

I am using Venture N2 Pro, and I am delighted with its quality. It gives me 360 degrees overview, and I see when someone even passing close to the car. It is not the cheapest camera, but it is really worth every dollar spent. If you would like to install a Venture N2 Pro camera in your car, it is available on Amazon, so click this link and find out the current price.

onboard camera protects car audio

Does Car Insurance Cover Car Audio?

Although insurance for car audio will not prevent your system from being stolen, it will pay you back costs if something bad happens.

All of us know that car audio systems are among the most frequently stolen equipment in the auto industry. Thieves also know their value. For instance, hi-end sound systems like Bose or Focal can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and we do not want to lose this money in case of theft.

If you have comprehensive auto insurance, the car’s factory-installed systems are already insured. Still, with the aftermarket system, you have to purchase the insurance policy extension or additional coverage.

You need to consult with your insurance provider before making any changes to your old system to ensure all modifications will be covered. If you would like to know more about insuring the car audio systems, I wrote this article about car audio insurance.


Most thieves who steal your car radio are amateurs and are looking for careless drivers that forgot to lock their vehicles. They take advantage of the drivers’ ignorance, and break into cars without much effort.

If you follow these simple above steps that most of them are common sense, there is a little chance that someone will ever break into your car. Just remember always to lock your doors, properly close the windows, and never leave any valuables in the visible places.

You can use more than one of these tips to reduce the risk even further. When your car stereo, or any other component is stolen, it significantly reduces your car’s value.

No matter if your car is new or old, good or damaged. It is a large investment, and it is your responsibility to keep it protected.