How to prevent a thief from stealing your wiper blades

During a heavy winter storm in 2016, a thick blanket of fresh snow covered the land. With near zero visibility and almost impassible road conditions, most schools and businesses elected not to open that day. When the storm subsided the following day, drivers excavated their vehicles out of several feet of snow. I did the same, but I encountered something most people didn’t – my windshield wiper blades were missing.

It was an odd experience to say the least. As I used my trusty, long-handled brush to wipe away the thick layer of snow above where I guessed my windshield to be (did I mention the thick pile of snow on the car?), I encountered a sudden stop against a solid object. When I cleared away the snow around the object, I saw the base of my windshield wiper absent the blade.

Some drivers choose to extend their wiper blades to a vertical position above their windshield when they expect a winter storm. This prevents the blades from becoming encased in ice against the glass during a deep freeze. I choose not to take this step when I expect a storm, which is why I was surprised to see my wiper base extended above the window. When I spotted the absence of the blade, I knew right away what had happened. I immediately began clearing the other blade to confirm my suspicions. That blade was missing as well.

Since an undisturbed pile of snow encased the blades, they were obviously removed at the beginning of the storm. Instead of picking up a new pair before the storm picked up in intensity, someone chose to steal mine. That also means they were likely stolen by a neighbor because a thief isn’t likely to walk too far in a storm to steal inexpensive wiper blades. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the type of neighbor I want living near me.

I had a car alarm armed and ready to call for help if an intruder entered the vehicle.  I had a steering wheel locking device in place to make it even more difficult for a thief to steal the car. I also keep the glove compartment locked and nothing of significant value in the vehicle. I had no idea my wiper blades could also be the target of an attack.

Though the storm had passed the morning I discovered the blades were missing, I needed to buy a new set before driving on the freeway to clear spashback on the windshield from passing vehicles. The thief placed the inconvenience and cost of new blades on me rather than taking on the task him or herself.

So what can a person do to prevent this from happening? Putting aside the desire to weld a new set of blades onto the wiper base, I chose to strap down the new set I purchased with electrical tape. You might be asking yourself, “Couldn’t a thief with a knife slice them off and steal them anyway?” True, that would be possible, if the thief expected such a situation. But that’s not something a thief is expecting to encounter, especially a situational thief (someone who only steals from someone else if it presents a way out of an undesirable or difficult situation).

The person who took my blades was probably a situational thief and unlikely to have a knife immediately available to saw through a layer of electrical tape. Should someone approach my car in the future seeking a set of blades, the person will probably think twice about taking them once the electrical tape defense is detected. The individual would have to retrieve a knife and saw through the tape first, and that takes more time. The more time a thief has to commit to a crime with a low rate of return, the more likely he or she will move on to an easier target and reduce the chances of getting caught in the act.

Before the next storm strikes your neighborhood, consider taping your wiper blades to their bases. It might make replacing them a little tougher in the future, but it also acts as a deterrent to thieves and could help keep your windshield clear for a safe drive to your next destination.

One response to “How to prevent a thief from stealing your wiper blades”

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