Theft-proof your vehicle—really

We’re lucky enough to own a couple of vehicles that are appreciating in value due to their classic status. This has made us more than usually paranoid about theft, especially given our proximity to the Mexico border, where many stolen vehicles wind up. 

For years I relied on standard anti-theft alarms and ignition disablers, which, while not immune to bypass, certainly made an attempt less likely. However, adding in an aftermarket electronic product that could render the vehicle inoperable for its owners if it failed always made me nervous, especially in the vehicles we frequently drive to remote areas. I considered kill switches, but heard too many stories of those being found, no matter how cleverly concealed or disguised. Steering-wheel locks? Thieves simply saw through the steering wheel and pop off the lock. Clever.

Then I found the Ravelco.

Invented in the 70s by a fellow who—you guessed it—had his car stolen, the Ravelco incorporates not a single electronic or even a moving part. The only visible element is a 16-pin female receptacle installed in the dash or anywhere else you like—no need to conceal it; in fact it’s better left visible. Behind the receptacle is an armored cable running into the engine compartment, containing 16 wires, 14 of which are decoys. Only two connect to some vital electrical component—different in every vehicle. A male plug, which rides on your keychain, has the correct live pins to allow the vehicle to start. If a thief tries to randomly jump connections on the dash plug, he has virtually zero chance of getting the right ones, and getting the wrong ones can short another component, further rendering the vehicle inoperable. 

Sound too simple? The company claims that, out of four million installations, not one vehicle has been stolen by defeating the device. Impressive. (Tow trucks obviously do not count.)

You can have multiple Ravelcos installed and have them all work off one master key, if you desire. A customer code allows you to buy replacements if necesssary. The chances of the device itself failing are scant; however, the installer can show an owner what components are being connected through the system. That way, if you happen to lose your male plug in the middle of nowhere and haven’t brought a spare, you can bypass the device.

Obviously, the Ravelco will not prevent a thief from breaking into a vehicle and stealing the contents. But with a Ravelco in place, I know the vehicle itself will still be there when I return. Find out more here.