Car theft can be a serious problem in some parts of the country, and drivers have to take steps to ensure that their car doesn't end up in the hands of a criminal. Fortunately, there are a number of accessories that can help deter thieves from stealing your vehicle - and if they do stop a theft, they'll pretty much pay for themselves.

One of the more basic techniques is the simple locking device on the steering wheel, which is usually shaped like a club or bar. This device is so common that in reality, it doesn't stop a determined car thief. Some will just saw through the steering wheel and slip the bar off. However, you can also buy a steel shield that will make sawing through the wheel impossible. In general, a club is a good purchase, as many thieves will just spot the bar through the window and move on to another vehicle.

In the movies, a car thief always seems to steal a car by hotwiring it. In a few seconds, they just pop off the steering column, cross a few wires and the engine magically starts. In reality, it's not that easy - although on some older GM models its pretty close. These cars are notorious for having a steering column that's quite easy to break into and hotwire. If you own an older GM model, you might want to invest in a steel collar, which wraps around the column. This makes the car quite difficult to hotwire, and it's a good investment for any car, not just GM vehicles.

Another anti-theft device that you can install on your vehicle is a tracking system, LoJack being the most famous. Keep in mind that this won't stop anyone from stealing your car - but it will aid police in tracking the car down if it does disappear.

If you're really serious about theft, one of the best deterrents is to have your all of your car parts marked with your VIN (vehicle identification) numbers. There are many services throughout the country that will do this. Many professional thieves steal cars only to sell them to "chop shops," which take the car apart and sell the individual parts. If all your parts are marked with VIN numbers, however, this makes doing so quite difficult. You can also mark your glass with your VIN number, so the thief will know that he won't be getting a profit off your car. It won't stop all thieves, but most would simply target another vehicle instead.