You bought a truck for a reason: to carry and tow more than you could with a sedan or SUV. Yet, open truck beds can feel like invitations to passers-by to take anything they like. If you live in an area where theft of and from vehicles is rampant, you might reasonably be interested in ways of protecting the precious cargo you keep in your truck. Here are a few products and solutions that might help.

Bed Caps and Covers
Because your truck bed is likely where you store most of your tools and equipment, the fastest and easiest way to prevent theft is to lock your bed up tight with a cap or cover. Though often conflated, caps and covers are two different types of products with distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Bed Caps
Also called camper shells, bed caps cover your truck bed with sides and a roof that extend the height of your truck bed. Often, bed caps are made from hard, durable materials like aluminum, fiberglass or plastic composite, which are all but impossible for thieves to break. Because caps extend the storage space of the bed, they can be useful if you frequently haul large or tall cargo. Some caps come with windows, which make the space more comfortable as a space for camping as well as more convenient to drive with and to track the equipment stored inside. However, windows can make a bed cap less secure, as they provide an easy entry point for criminals. Additionally, bed caps alter the appearance of the truck dramatically, which many truck drivers do not want or appreciate.

Bed Covers
Truck bed covers are easily one of the best upgrades a truck owner can invest in, especially when they are concerned about security. Often called Tonneau covers, bed covers can come in flexible material, like vinyl, or hard material, like aluminum or composite plastic. Some are solid, single pieces, while others roll or fold up. Most Tonneau covers restrict the height of cargo to the height of the bed, though there are expandable covers that will flex over tall or bulky cargo. Notably, bed covers improve the aerodynamics of trucks, which means driving with a Tonneau cover in place can increase fuel efficiency.

Tailgate Locks
Surprising many first-time truck owners, tailgates are exceedingly valuable components of your truck — and they are also particularly easy for thieves to steal. Only a couple bolts secure the hinges of your tailgate to your bed, and because these bolts are relatively easy to access and unscrew, your tailgate and everything stored in your bed could go missing if you do not take steps to protect it.

The most affordable way to protect your tailgate — and everything in your truck, for that matter — is to park your truck inside a garage or as close to your home as possible. However, you can purchase tailgate locks and protectors, which screw into various parts around your tailgate to thwart attempts at theft. More advanced tailgate locks, like keyed or remote locks, can cost upwards of $100, but considering the cost of a new tailgate, this relatively minor investment might be worthwhile.

Truck Lockboxes
When you perpetually store cargo inside your truck, you need a reliable system for keeping it safe. Lockboxes that attach securely to your truck are essential. You might take advantage of an organization system that includes drawers, racks and dividers where you can store and attach your tools and equipment. Ideally, your storage solution should be hidden from view, so thieves are not tempted to attack your truck to retrieve valuable tools and supplies. In the bed, you might cover your storage boxes with a bed cap or cover for extra protection. In the cabin, you can slide a lockbox under the rear seat or install a secure insert into the space between your seats or inside your truck’s glove compartment. Regardless of where it is, storage boxes should be made of heavy and durable materials that are not easily removed from your vehicle or broken open.

Every upgrade that you put into your truck should have a purpose, be it to improve the performance or security of your vehicle. By thinking about accessories that enhance your safety and the protection of your precious cargo, you can save yourself time, money and energy into the future.