Security at Rental Car Lots

Rental car lots store millions of dollars of assets in a relatively small space—and potential robbers are all over it. Parking lot security measures can make all the difference for these businesses.

Last Updated:
June 23, 2023
| ~
min Read
Breanna Olaveson
Marketing Writer

In May 2023, four teenagers were accused of attempting to steal a rental car from the Salt Lake City International Airport. The teenagers—all under 16—tried to drive the Nissan Altima away. On their way out of the rental car parking lot, the four laid traffic cones over the tire shredders meant to deter thieves from exiting without paying. However, the traffic cones did not protect the car, and the four were caught. 

Fortunately for the rental car company, these would-be thieves were not remarkably competent. But in many rental car parking lots around the world, more practiced perpetrators cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. 

Part of the reason is the sheer value of the assets. Dozens or even hundreds of cars, each valued at tens of thousands of dollars, means that potential thieves have a significant incentive to hit a rental car lot rather than, say, a retail store. 

But there’s more to it than that—another significant liability rental car lots deal with is the cars’ accessibility. While most retailers lock up their entire inventory at night—sometimes behind multiple layers of security—rental cars can’t reasonably be stored anywhere but in the lot. This lack of protection leaves them vulnerable and in plain view of potential thieves. 

Physical Security Barriers

In 2018, seven young people arrived at a rental car lot at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport intending to steal cars. However, when they attempted to leave, security barriers blocked the exits. Each driver attempted to break through the barrier, but only one managed to do so. The other six were deterred. 

While the security barrier did not thwart every driver, and the rental car lot reportedly sought more significant security measures, the security barriers were effective in de-escalating the situation. If you are concerned with your car lot security, installing physical barriers like spike strips can be a great place to start. 

Security Guards

Parking lot security cameras and other technological solutions are immensely helpful in ensuring car lot security. But it can also be helpful to have security guards available to notice when things go wrong, attempt to stop robberies in progress, and notify law enforcement should it be necessary.  

But with new, mobile-based security systems, security guards no longer have to be present to fulfill these essential roles. Motion sensors can send notifications to asset protection professionals instantly. So even when no one is onsite, security guards and other personnel can know right away when their assets are threatened. 

Visible Security Cameras

Some rental car lot thieves are successful because they work in large groups. At a car lot robbery at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, seven teenagers worked together to steal six rental cars from a minimally secured parking lot. In that case, a single security guard blocking the exit was insufficient to stop the perpetrators from escaping.

In these situations, parking lot security cameras can be especially helpful. While security guards onsite can only be in one place at a time, security cameras give car lot owners eyes on the entire car lot at all times. Also, many security cameras provide 24-hour remote access to live video streams, which means that car lot security personnel and law enforcement can quickly access the evidence they need to identify and arrest car thieves. 

Better yet, security cameras can act as deterrents to potential thieves and may protect rental car lots from crime in the first place. Because potential criminals can see the cameras and understand the risk of quickly being identified, they may avoid that car lot and try for one with less security. 

Secured Indoor Safes 

While cars are the highest-value assets on rental car lots, they are useless without the keys. In the previously mentioned Gates, New York, large-scale robbery, police were unsure how the robbers obtained the keys to the cars they stole. But if they hadn’t been able to access them, none of the 17 cars would have made it off the lot.  

To secure your rental car lot, ensure that keys are well-secured, especially if you have no security guards on duty. Investing in a lockbox, safe, or other high-security storage option can significantly improve your rental car lot’s security. 

None of these security measures is enough on its own to ensure your rental car lot is not the target of an attempted robbery. However, the more security measures you have, the more secure your car rental lot will be. When the benefits of physical security barriers, onsite security guards, visible security cameras, and secured indoor safes are combined, the risks to rental car lot owners diminish significantly. With as many of these security measures in place as possible, your assets, people, and investments will be safer. 

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