Auto Theft: Is Your Car Safe?

It’s a car owner’s nightmare: You come to the parking spot where you left your prized ride, and it’s nowhere to be found. You search the parking lot, hoping you just forgot where you parked your wheels, but no luck. Your car’s gone.

It’s a problem faced in many areas in the U.S., but in some areas, the risk seems to be declining. Two years ago, Laredo, Texas, topped the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s list of vehicle theft hotspots, with more than 1,960 vehicles stolen in 2009. Today, Laredocar thefts have plunged by 53 percent. Laredomirrors a trend sweeping the United States. Thanks to tougher law enforcement and advanced anti-theft security systems, car insurance claims for stolen vehicles are at an eight-year low in the United States.

Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for NICB, says that anti-theft devices are a true game-changer. Once only available in luxury cars, today, anti-theft devices are affordable additions to everything from entry-level to luxury cars.

Proactive community policing campaigns are also educating drivers about common-sense anti-theft measures. For example, the NICB estimates that half of all stolen vehicles have the driver’s keys in the ignition or unlocked car doors. Car owners may think it’s safe to leave their keys in the ignition while making a quick stop at the ATM or a convenience store, but doing so creates an easy opportunity for would-be car thieves. Community policy programs designed to reduce the number of stolen car insurance claims are reminding drivers to follow common sense when parking their cars.

Do you live in a car-theft hotspot? Seven out of the 10 hotspots are in California, and nine of the 10 hotspots are on the West Coast. Follow these three tips to deter vehicle theft.

  1. Lock it, Take it, Hide it: The Insurance Council of Texas’s “Lock, Take, Hide” campaign, along with tougher community policing, is credited with reducing the number of car thefts inLaredo and across the state ofTexas. Whether or not you live inTexas, the campaign’s common-sense advice is an important reminder that small choices can make a big difference in deterring theft. Park in a well-lit area, lock your doors, take your keys and hide your valuables.
  1. Install an anti-theft device. Anti-theft devices stop the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine – preventing would-be thieves from hot-wiring your vehicle. Thanks to technological advancements, many new cars come with anti-theft devices. If your car does not have one, consider having one installed.
  1. Install a tracking device. If your car is stolen, a tracking device like LoJack can help police recover the stolen vehicle. LoJack, which operates in 26 states and theDistrict of Columbia, has a 90 percent success rate for recovering stolen vehicles. Many insurance companies also offer discounts if LoJack or other tracking devices are installed.

You may also want to consider looking into VIN etching which can help to deter car thieves and recover your stolen vehicle.


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