woman speaking with caption 'TIPS ON PROTECTING YOUR VEHICLE FROM THEFT or BURGLARY...(*from an ex car thief) (l) car thief trying to open door (c) woman speaking (r)

PBXStudio/Shutterstock @treeswalk/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘I started putting my purse in my trunk’: Ex car thief shares how to protect your car from being stolen

'My car is filled with fast food bags and trash. Nobody will break in.'


Parks Kugle


Posted on Jan 31, 2024   Updated on Jan 31, 2024, 12:34 pm CST

A former car thief went viral when she shared tips on how to keep your car from being stolen.

TikToker Tree (@treeswalk), a rehabilitated burglar who spent 27 years in prison, gave three simple ways to prevent cars from being broken into and stolen. The video was viewed 3.6 million times as of publication.

Tree began with a simple disclaimer: “As you guys know, I specialized in stealing cars and breaking into houses. That’s why I went to prison; that’s why I went up the road. … So to bring awareness, I’m going to give you guys three ways to prevent your car from being broken in or stolen from an ex-con’s perspective.”

The first thing Tree advised was buying a steering wheel lock. “A steering wheel lock prevents the thief from being able to maneuver the car or drive the car,” Tree said. “They may be able to still crank it … but what happens is that once they move that spring, if that steering wheel don’t pop loose, they can’t drive the car.”

A steering wheel lock is a simple device that can cost between $30 to $70. The device locks the wheel, and some can even lock the wheel, clutch, and gas pedal.

Next, she suggested getting a tire lock. “Again, that does not prevent the person from being able to pop your steering column, pull up that box, and crank it,” Tree said. “But it will, if you have the steering lock, prevent them from driving off, and the tire lock prevents your tires from moving.”

Tire or wheel locks are anti-theft devices designed to stop thieves from removing rims and tires. They are especially useful if the car owner invests in high-end rims. They also immobilize the vehicle by disabling a wheel.

@treeswalk HOW TO PROTECT YOUR VEHICLE FROM THIEVES 🤫 #prison #prisonrules #prisonbreak #cars #carsoftiktok #prisonstories #protection #prisontiktok #prisonlife #prisontok #prisonstory #lifestyle #hacks #storytime #momsoftiktok #dads ♬ original sound – Tree

After that, Tree recommended a car alarm system. “Invest in a good car alarm system,” she said. “The louder, the better. A thief do not want to be seen doing what they’re doing. They do not want to draw attention to themselves. What happens when there’s a lot of noise? They’re going to take off.”

An alarm system does generate noise, but most people won’t check to see if a car is being stolen. One survey found that less than 1% of people would call the police if they heard a car alarm. Also, thieves know how to disable them. According to Carlock, 80% of car thieves know how to disable car alarms.

Tree also suggested keeping bags, computers, and loose change out of sight when leaving your car.

Viewers loved her video and added their own takes on car theft and break-ins.

“We had the steering wheel locks in the late 80’s early 90’s they are definitely making a comeback,” a viewer said.

“This is why I keep 5% tint all around now. Also, I put my purse in the trunk before & the person watching me went straight to my trunk after breaking in. & I had valuables in the front compartments,” a second added.

“Just keep full coverage & gap insurance. If they want it they’ll figure out a way to get it,” a third advised.

Car theft has risen dramatically in the last few years. In the first half of 2023, almost half a million cars were reported stolen. Illinois saw the largest increase in theft, with a 38% jump in reported thefts. New York was second with a 20% increase, and Ohio was third at 15%. Theft has gotten so bad that people have begun taking the law into their own hands. One couple went viral when they confronted their car thief in front of a Dollar Tree. Luckily, they were able to get the woman’s wallet back, as well as their car.

The Daily Dot reached out to Tree via email for further information.

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2024, 9:00 pm CST