The Expensive Alternative: LoJack

The primary benefit of LoJack's tracking device is the company's longstanding relationship with local police. The LoJack homing device installed in a car is tied to the vehicle identification number (VIN), so when a car is reported stolen and the VIN is entered into the state police crime computer, that automatically triggers the LoJack Unit in the vehicle [source: LoJack].

The brand reputation is strong -- LoJack stands behind a 90 percent recovery rate and most vehicles are returned within 24 hours. The majority of tracking systems use GPS to spot a car, which won't always work. An underground parking deck, for instance, can cut off the signal. Because LoJack tracks a radio frequency, so hiding a car isn't so simple [source: LoJack]. But at $695, LoJack is pricey, and only works in parts of the United States where police are on board with the tracking and recovery process.

Before buying a LoJack -- or any tracking system -- the most important thing to consider is the car itself. Are you driving an older mid-range Toyota or Ford? If so, you probably don't want to spend $700 installing a comprehensive tracking system when there are less expensive methods to ward off crooks. On the other hand, if you're cruising around the city in a brand new Mercedes, a recovery system probably sounds mighty nice. Do the math: Understand how much losing that car could potentially cost you, then factor in the price of a security system and the insurance benefits of having of an on-board tracking device.