Times have changed, but human nature hasn't. There are law-abiding truck owners like yourself, and then there are the bottom-feeding miscreants who want to steal your truck and its contents, only we're not going to let that happen. You have some powerful mojo in your corner, and these layers of protection will keep your truck intact and safe from harm.

The Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are the most stolen SUVs in the country, and the Chevy fullsize and Ford F-150 are the most stolen pickups - they're in the top 10 for vehicle theft. So, if you have an Excursion or a Dodge Ram, you may be somewhat safe, however, every truck and SUV out there is a potential target, including yours, and truck thieves are nimble and very fast. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram just reported that the latest trend in vehicle theft is stealing mobile video systems. This makes sense, seeing as LCD monitors have come down in price, but can still cost up to $1,000, and clever thieves can pop one right into their purses with no one the wiser. So what are the first layers of protection between your truck and truck poachers?

-Park in a well-lit area
-Lock your truck and take your keys
-Don't leave tempting items (laptops, wallets, and CDs) in plain sight

Those points are all free and full of common sense, but the following items - while not free - are also affordable, especially when you consider the alternative - shivering at the bus stop.

Here are some other ideas:
-Steering wheel lock
-Audible alarm with shock sensor
-Starter kill or other immobilizer
-Tracking system

Some of these layers are very high tech, but don't forget about the lowly steering wheel lock. If that crook looks into your window and sees a big red hunk of steel clamped onto your steering wheel, he may decide to steal someone else's ride.

The hottest category of audible alarms these days are two-way systems that come with a tiny LCD screen on the remote. They can alert you up to a 1/2-mile away if your alarm is going off, even if you are too far away to hear the siren.

Many trucks now come with some kind of immobilizer. For instance, the Chevy Silverado comes with GM's PASSLock system with fuel disable at all trim levels, though it's still the sixth most stolen vehicle in the country. The Silverado's higher trim levels also come with an alarm that honks the horn if a door is opened while armed, but there is no shock sensor to detect blows or impacts to the vehicle.

That's where an aftermarket alarm, as opposed to the factory one that comes with the truck, really shines, because virtually all of them come with a shock sensor, and because every install is custom. You can work closely with your installer to build a system that will really protect your truck. We recommend a high-quality alarm, plus an audio/glass break sensor and a backup battery siren. The audio sensor can trigger your alarm, even if the thief breaks the glass gently. The backup battery siren - installed in a different part of your truck - can still scream for help, even if the thief silences the primary siren. It's all about making them feel unwelcome and unwanted.

Finally, if a skillful thief does manage to steal your truck, you'll want to track it to down to get it back. Today's GPS tracking systems can actually tell you when your truck is stolen. If it moves 150 meters without your permission, the company can notify you by phone, fax, or e-mail. That's a feature you'll think is well worth the money when you see the thief being helped into the back of the patrol car by the cops who recovered your pickup. Just the facts - you'll look good in stripes.