Whether you’ve invested in an older golf cart or went all out and purchased a new, high-end NEV, (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle), you need to do everything you can to reduce waking up to an empty space in your yard or carport.

Golf cart theft is unfortunately a rising crime statistic. In places like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Peachtree City in Georgia, The Villages and many other communities in Florida, golf carts and other low speed vehicles are widely used for short-trip and community transportation, and thieves are becoming very skilled in figuring out how to steal them. Law enforcement statistics show that around 30,000 carts are stolen each year.

While many are able to keep their cart secure inside an enclosed garage, some owners need to store their cart in an open carport at their mobile home, in their yard of a residential property or in a shared storage lot. Obviously, the more secure the location, the lesser the risk of cart theft.

Here are some things to consider when trying to keep your cart from being a target of thieves.

Older carts often used a “one key” system to operate the cart, meaning a key from one cart brand would likely fit another cart of the same brand. This made it easier for golf courses and country club facilities to store keys for their entire fleet. Today, most newer carts come with a unique key that only works with the cart you purchase. If you have an earlier cart model with a “one key” ignition, you can install a new aftermarket ignition designed for a unique key. Of course, making sure to remove the key from the ignition while storing your cart or at a shopping plaza while running errands is a primary key to theft prevention.

If you leave your cart unattended when you spend the summers up north or other travel away from home, you can add a tire boot or wheel lock to your cart. Much like the boot used by law enforcement, a sturdy, lockable tire boot can deter thieves from moving your cart from your property or carport. Many wheel locks are available for $50.00 or less.

Another theft prevention device is a pedal lock which locks your accelerator pedal in place and renders the cart undriveable. David Baynard is the Founder of Black River Tools®, a family owned business in Manning, SC, that makes a variety of outdoor products and accessories including their Cart Lok® device that locks to your depressed parking brake pedal and accelerator pedal to prevent them from being operated. The devices are made of ½-inch solid stainless steel and the company has models designed to fit most major cart brand models. Cart Lok uses an American-made lock with a cutter guard to prevent theft.

“The idea came to me after I had purchased a winter golf cart cover, which was stolen the very next day,” says Baynard. “I was playing golf soon after that and became determined to create a prototype device that would lock the cart’s pedals in place, and that’s how Cart Lok was created.”

When Baynard reported the theft of his cart cover to the Horry County, SC, sheriff’s department, he asked the responding deputy if golf cart theft was a major problem in the Myrtle Beach area. The officer replied, “in the summer, all I do is chase golf cart thefts down.” He also said most cart thefts occur in broad daylight in public places. Cart Lok retails for around $200.00 – $250.00, depending on the cart model, and come with easy mounting instructions. They can easily be self-installed, or your local cart shop can handle installation. The company also offers wholesale pricing to dealers.

Many manufacturers also make a steering wheel lock, a long metal pole that attaches to your steering wheel and extends to the cart’s roof pillars to make it impossible to steer the cart. There are also some steering wheel lock mechanisms that attach to your cart’s roof pillars that are made with a flexible steel, fabric covered strap that will fit on almost all carts.

Going one step further, installing a hidden kill switch to your cart will eliminate the possibility of a crook starting your cart, even with the key in the ignition. This type of switch cuts power to the cart’s batteries and may not work with newer carts that are computer controlled.

A company called Cart Key makes a digital code unit that your dealer or cart maintenance company can install on your dashboard and is connected to your cart’s power source. Unless you know the key code and enter it correctly, your cart will not start, just like the keypad on many car doors.

You may also want to take a hard look at where you store your cart. If it is kept in an open carport where it is visible from the street or in your backyard, motion sensing security lights can be worth the cost. Using a full golf cart cover can also deter lazy thieves who won’t go through the hassle of uncovering it to steal it.

Many newer carts and NEVs are equipped with a GPS system. This alone will not prevent cart theft, but the information it generates can be used via a theft recovery device that will track your cart’s location and assist law enforcement to recover it. There are several tracking recovery systems on the market, and it is a small device that attaches to your vehicle and pinpoints its exact location in real time via cellular tracking and GPS technologies.

Taking the necessary precautions will protect your investment and reduce the chance of becoming a victim of golf cart theft.