Fake-out Stolen Stereo




About: i make stuff

For about a year and a half I lived in a sketchy section Oakland. My car was broken into on a weekly basis. I didn't really care much about it wen I had a car I didn't really care much about, but when I traded up I actually cared. In the first week I had it, it was broken into and the radio was stolen. I vowed my radio would never be stolen again. Here's how I fool the theives.

Step 1: The Set Up

For about a year and a half I lived in a sketchy section Oakland. My car was broken into on a weekly basis. I didn't really care much about it when I had a car I didn't really care much about, but when I traded up for an '83 Mercedes ready for a BioDiesel Conversion (You may be saying to yourself "That was trading UP?!") I actually cared, not because it was an awesome car, but because it was new-to-me and my pet project.

In the first week I had it, it was broken into and the radio was stolen. This was a factory installed radio from 1983, complete with tape deck. Apparently the theives knew more about resale value than me, because when I processed it with the insurance company they told me that the original radio was actually worth more than the car (approx. $1300) and I had to negotiate with them not to total the car out.

In the end they gave me enough money to make repairs, replace the golden radio with something fancy and new, and have some left over.

The new radio had an iPod attachment that I wired through the glovebox, but more importantly it had a removable faceplate (tre modern!). The catch with the removable faceplate, is that even when you take the faceplate off and have the car off, there is a blinking red light on the empty dock, alerting theives to the fact that there is a nice radio in there, and possibly a faceplate tossed around somewhere too.

But I wasn't going to let my fancy new radio get stolen again - my insurance company was already getting suspicious from my once-a-week calls. I had a plan.

Step 2: Fit the Frame Around the Fake Radio

I found an old faceplate holder from (surprise!) my housemates stolen car radio. I cut one half of the box off (lengthwise) and dremmeled out a believably radio-sized hole in the center.

Step 3: Make It Look Jacked Up

I wrapped some electrical tape around the back, just to have some kind of rear surface and taped in some jagged wires - conveneintly left from the stolen radio. Then I stuck one side of sticky velcro to the back of the tape, and the other side to the empty radio face (the fuzzy side didn't impare the face-plate-attaching as much).

Its not perfect, but it does cover up the blinky light and looks pretty jacked up, especially if its dark out. So now when I'm parking the car overnight, I take the real faceplate off and put the janky faceplate on. I've only had one break in since (2 years!) and they didn't even notice the radio.



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    26 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great Idea or you could just put touch sensitive plates around your stereo and hook it up to your car battery line, so if anybody touches it... ZAAPPPP! Makes for more fun when you shock them 99.9% to death. And I live by Oakland so good job. Deep-east-o won't know what hit 'em.

    7 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Salvage a dozen caps from disposable cameras to amp it up a bit then, wire the caps in series to stack the voltage to a higher level to make it more interesting. btw, car batteries can drive a lot of current even though they are 12v

    ya. or, just run it through a transformer to put it at about 12k volts.....I can gurantee that will leave a mark.......


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Not if you hide your assets well, place them in trusts, or are what the legal term is "execution proof" Can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, and liberal ambulance chasers hate that, so does our pathetic dictator, Hussein Obama.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, but 12v can't push high current through a high resistance. Unless you had wet hands, you wouldn't even feel a contact with 12v. You can't just wire a bunch of caps in series to get a higher voltage, you need to charge them up too, which means feeding them from a high voltage source (AC step-up transformer or DC-DC converter).


    4 years ago

    '84 300d in central valley not far from you w egr delete Alda delete straight pipe and rack limiter removed car is super great now and only maint I need do is oil changes fuel filters and adj the valves once a year n she stays top notch. good idea for living in oakland


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice idea, and a good instructible. I'll keep this in mind...

    Junkyard Dawg

    8 years ago on Step 3

    This sounds like what I need. my neghborhood is starting to get rough

    Go to his profile. He's in cali i actually didn't care enough to look but figured it out when someone said move across the bay. I'm not being smart.

    Matt D655

    10 years ago on Introduction

    If i caught someone breakin into my ride id beat the livin crap outta them.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thieves will take anything, even the old AM/MW radio taken from a Citroen 2CV I left on the passenger seat of my former Citroen BX, and the radio didn't even work!!! Can I suggest adding a pair of RCA audio cables to the setup? And a cluster of cables to look like the DIN or whatever it is has been chopped? It just makes it look more authentic, like a faceplate called "It's gone!" I saw in a car spares shop a while back (not cheap though for a bit of plastic, velcro and a few wires!!!)... :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    we've got an 81 with black console, and we're running WVO, but otherwise, same car! Also in oakland. We just lost 2 radios in a month. Sucks! I was thinking of doing something similar. but I was actually thinking of scarring or repainting the face-plate. I like this better, and wouldn't have thought of velcro. Thanks.