Thieves want your GPS, dude -- so, watch it!

News 11 ran this investigative report on GPS unit thievery on Wednesday night at 11 p.m. Be sure to watch the video to see if you are doing everything you can to protect your GPS from being stolen.

They are expected to be one of the hottest items for the holidays -- and why not -- when they can make our lives so much easier?

GPS units, or navigation systems, can not only help you find your way, they can help plan your life.

"So you can type in a barbecue restaurant or even your favorite Italian restaurant and it will take you to any one of those," says Javin Mendoza, the manager of TAS Electronics on Telegraph Rd. in west Toledo.

Mendoza expects big sales in navigation units because prices are coming down and the technology is getting more and more exciting. But there is a downside -- thieves like them even more.

Scott Barber bought a GPS system and when he was done driving, he hid it in the center console. One day, his system became an "easy target."

"The neighbor knocked on my door and said, 'Hey there's somebody breaking into your car," Barber says. When he got out to his car, the thieves had taken off with his prized navigation unit.

"Thieves are stealing these like hotcakes. No matter which zip code you live in, you can find examples of these units being stolen," says John Townsend, with AAA Motor Club.

Many navigation systems are portable and if you leave them in your car, it can be easy pickings for criminals. They can get hundreds of dollars for them on eBay or the black market. Adding to the problem, many people enter their home address into the unit, as a home base for directions on the road.

"So if your device is stolen, the thief using it will have your home address. And the danger that we run is that he can come to your house and also burglarize your home," Townsend says.

Some of Mendoza's customers here in Toledo have had their GPS systems stolen. He has this advice.

"You should treat your GPS system like would an iPod or any other portable device you keep in your car. Cell phone -- aways remove it whenever you get out of the vehicle, lock it up in your glove box and take it with you wherever you go," Mendoza says.

It is pretty simple to protect your GPS system from being stolen. A few models snap right off so you can take them with you.

Many navigation systems come with security devices that require a pin number. You must have the code to unlock the system and use it. A thief may still get a hold of it, but without your code, it's useless to them.

Basically the way you know is you press button number one, that will let you know when it is locked and unlocked. You can also buy a remote alarm that lets you know up to two miles away, when your car is being broken into.

And when you do remove the portable unit, wipe off the suction mark left behind on the windshield or dash. That way-- you can still find your way-- but send a potential thief on a detour.

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Posted by KO