TIPS: How to keep your car from being stolen, experts say it's simple

SEATTLE -- Car thefts are up 40-percent this year in Seattle, from January through April, compared with the same time last year, according to Seattle police.

Officers say thieves are hitting areas across the city -- especially in the Northgate area and places where there are lots of people and lots of cars, including Alki Beach and Seattle Center.

Car thieves usually don’t hold onto their loot for long. A stolen Nissan Altima recovered recently in Seattle is now waiting for repairs at Superior Auto Service. The crooks ripped off the steering column so they could start the car with a screwdriver.

“The repair is $300 to $500 worth of repairs,” said owner Jay McGrew.

It is an expensive inconvenience that could be avoided with a simple club on your steering wheel.

“We’ve never done a theft recovery on a car that has a club on it ever.

McGrew says clubs work as a better deterrent than car alarms.

“We all hear car alarms but how many people look to see what’s going on,” McGrew said.

If your car goes missing, there are devices that can immediately locate your ride.

“They make a device that goes on the battery terminal that’s a big thumb screw,” McGrew said.

Otherwise known as a kill switch, it shuts down your engine so thieves can’t get too far.

But it’s only recommended for older cars.

“That would prevent somebody from stealing your car but it also deletes all your radio stations clock and other memory you have in your car,” McGrew said.

Another option is a LoJack, it's similar to a GPS device that tracks where your car goes. But experts say it also has pros and cons.

“The disadvantage of a LoJack is that you have a monthly fee obviously the advantage is that you can see where your car is at any time,” McGrew said.

Most thieves are not stealing cars to sell its parts anymore. Police say they are using it for drug deals and other criminal activity. When they are done with the stolen cars they are quickly dumped in random areas.