Vehicle theft is often a crime of opportunity that can be reduced through awareness and prevention. The quicker a car thief can steal your vehicle, the more attractive it is. However, you can discourage would-be thieves by making theft more difficult. Anything you can do to slow down car thieves will make your vehicle a less appealing target.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), in 2019, there were 794,019 auto thefts in the United States. This was down from 819,988 in 2018 and 833,740 in 2017 (NICB 2019 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report). With more than 2,175 vehicles stolen each day, auto theft is preventable.
Auto theft-related crimes impact the community. While vehicle theft is classified as a property crime, according to the Arizona Auto Theft Authority, it is often linked to other more serious crimes with serious consequences that reach far beyond that of just a stolen vehicle. The Colorado Automobile Theft Prevention Authority reports that 74% of car thieves are charged with additional offenses such as drug crimes, armed robbery, home invasion, and identity theft (https://lockdownyourcar.org/tips/).
The automobile industry is continuously evolving its theft prevention technology to stay a step ahead of the thieves. Despite the reduction in vehicle thefts over the past several years, industry observers caution that thieves are also continually evolving sophisticated means to defeat these new security devices.
With that said, it is essential to know some key elements of theft prevention. Locking your car doors is one of the most effective barriers to auto theft, however, it is only the start. You can make it more difficult to steal your vehicle by incorporating these four steps:
1. Use Common Sense - #ParkSmartAZ
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Lock your doors, even when you are driving, and roll up your windows.
- Take your keys out of the car.
- Never leave your vehicle running unattended, not even for a minute, even when it is locked. Even if your key fob is with you, it does not take much to break a window and drive off with your car.
- Do not leave your children or pets unattended in your car.
- Always park in well-lit areas.
- Do not keep a spare set of keys in the car. This can allow thieves to access your home and more of your property. All a thief needs are your spare house key, or a key fob left in your car to have unlimited access to your possessions.
- Remove your valuables from your car or hide them in the trunk or out of view.
- Report anything suspicious and avoid suspicious-looking people.
- Review your insurance policy annually to ensure you have the coverage you expect. Do not wait until after your car is stolen to find out you don’t have the coverage you think you have.
- Implement and use #9PMRoutineAZ.
2. Invest in an Anti-Theft Device / Warning Device
- Audible alarm system
- Steering wheel locks
- Steering column collars
- Enroll in the “Watch Your Car” program
- Tire locks
- Window alarm
- Window-VIN etching
3. Vehicle Immobilizer - This is a device that prevents thieves from hot-wiring your vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the power or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated.
- Smart keys have computer chips that must be present to start the car
- Fuse cut-offs
- Ignition cut-off system
- Starter, ignition, and fuel disablers
4. Tracking System - Install a tracking device that alerts police or a monitoring service when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very useful in helping law enforcement authorities recover stolen vehicles.