If you’ve ever struggled to change a flat tire or swap out your car’s battery, you might be surprised at how quickly an illegal “chop shop” can take your car apart. With the help of three body shop employees, the Houston Police Department (HPD) worked with Allstate to put together this video, which shows how quickly your car can be stripped down to the frame.
It took the team just 8 minutes and 19 seconds to strip a Honda Accord down for parts.
That speed can turn into a fast profit for these chop shop operations, since the components of a car are usually worth more money than the car as a whole.
Thousands of cars are stolen in Texas each year. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 62,819 vehicles stolen in Texas in 2010, with Ford, Chevy and Dodge pickups leading the pack.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep your car safe, and minimize the chance of theft.
Lock It Up, Take Your Keys
It may seem like a no-brainer, but common sense is one of the most important theft deterrents. For starters, keep your doors locked, and hang on to your keys. The Texas DMV reports that over half of all stolen vehicles had the keys left inside, and a local news source cites an HPD officer as saying that 40 percent of Houstonians leave their cars unlocked.
You should also avoid leaving your car running and unattended, which is like rolling out the welcome mat for thieves. Pay particular attention at convenience stores, ATMs and gas stations, which are frequent targets for car thieves, according to the Texas DMV.
Also, keep valuables out of sight. If you keep items like a purse, a cellphone or a wallet in the car, make sure they’re not out in plain sight and that the windows are rolled the whole way up.
The HPD also encourages parking in well-lit, well-trafficked areas. Some people may park farther away to avoid door dings, but the Department says that parking your car out of sight just makes a car thief’s job easier. If possible, try parking in an attended lot or garage (give the attendant the ignition key only; keep the trunk and glove box locked). And, consider installing an anti-theft device.
If your car ends up in the wrong hands, an efficient chop shop could make it nearly impossible to recover. However, if you make your car harder to steal, these thieves will likely move along to an easier target.