I've read (and many of you too I suppose) that Manual Transmission is a theft deterrent because a lot of people in North America doesn't know how to drive a standard. Well, back in end October 2013, my car was stolen right in front of my house overnight, and it was a standard. I've done a lot of reading and research in car theft technology, car brand and type that is less likely to be stolen, and whether the transmission matters.
After speaking to my insurance broker and the police, they told me stolen cars in North America are most likely being shipped in cargos overseas, and that's especially true for cheap, reliable, and popular cars. It basically depends on the market's demand. As for my stolen car, despite being a standard, I also have a clutch pedal locker. So how my car was still stolen? Two words: tow truck.
Based on how I last parked my car, there are pieces of glass next by the driver's side, which suggests the car was broken in. The alarm never triggered and after some research, I found out my car was never equipped with shock sensors. In addition, the manufacturer's base alarm is even more useless. If the alarm is armed and the door was opened from the inside, the alarm will disarm by itself. This combination of lack of security and convenience has made the vehicle unprotected from theft. Engine immobilisers have gone up a notch and has made it harder to hotwire. I did find out that with the engine off, you can freely move the shifter to any gears without clutching in. So if the wheels are straight, just break the driver's side window, open the door from the inside, put a blanket on the seat so the broken glass pieces won't cut you, put the shifter into neutral, lower the handbrake, and load it up to the tow truck. Sound straight forward, isn't it?
What would've happened if it was an automatic? Well, I know you'll need a screwdriver to pop a little clip in a corner of the transmission stick to change gears from P to RND32L when the engine is off. The question remains if you still need to press down the brake pedal. If so, then a brake pedal lock (same as the cluch pedal lock) would be effective enough. But if the thieves really want to steal your car, they'll get it no matter what.
All of the discussions about Manual Transmission being a theft deterrent mechanism is probably true for those wanting to joy ride, but to the more experience thieves, I think Manual Transmission is much easier to steal. There are only so much you can do to protect your car from theft. Best way is to just turn your wheels all the way to one side before turning the engine off to make a car, any car, harder (not impossible) to steal. Shock sensors would sound an alarm too, but nowadays, lots of people would ignore alarm sound.
So what happens now that I have a new car? Well, for one thing, I've discovered that my neighborhood has become a hotspot for car theft, so I've become paranoid. Instead of parking on the street (yup, when my car was stolen, I parked on the street because I was lazy during that time), I've parked in my inclined driveway with wheels completely turned to one side. Visual customizations may not be my specialty, but they are "signatures" to separate and isolate "your unique car" from the rest, making it easier to identify in camera recordings say at a street light intersection or something.
What do you guys think?