Whether the economy is good or bad, nothing changes the fact that losing a car, truck, SUV, hybrid or electric vehicle due to auto theft is an expensive loss. Experts, including the FBI, estimate that annual U.S. vehicle thefts are from 750,000 to well over a million per year. Costs caused by these thefts are calculated anywhere from 4 to 8 billion dollars and thefts are, by and large, performed by professionals. With such high financial stakes, vehicle manufacturers continue to introduce increasingly effective anti-theft devices.

Alarms installed in many vehicles are commonly set off when sensors detect attempts to gain access to a vehicle's doors, hood, trunk or windows. Loud horns accompanied by flashing vehicle lights are a great deterrent to many thieves. Silent alarms which notify vehicle owners of theft attempts via smart phones are also in use. They are less effective as deterrents, but are more effective in assisting in capturing criminals.

Besides alarms, a variety of other devices, varying in complexity and expense, are available to protect a vehicle such as:

  • Electronic (coded) Keys
  • Electronic Tracking Devices
  • Floorboard/Crook Locks
  • Gearshift Locks
  • Hood Locks
  • Kill Switches (fuel or ignition)
  • Steering Column Armored Collars
  • Steering Wheel Lock
  • Theft-Deterrent Decals
  • Tire/Wheel Locks
  • Trunk Locks
  • VIN Etching

Another trend regarding auto thefts is that, while auto theft continues to be a major problem, the theft of newer model cars has decreased due to modern anti-theft devices, especially when more than one type of device is used. However, the most effective tool continues to be simple loss prevention and common sense.

Thieves look for two things when going about their work: One: attractive reasons to steal and two: easy targets. Vehicles that are often stolen are those with one of the following attributes:

  • An owner has left valuable property in the open that is easily seen by potential thieves
  • The car is in a location with higher than average theft losses
  • The car is a model that is sought for its desirability (exotic or luxury models)
  • The vehicle is a target as it is a popular source for parts
  • A car has been left running and/or unattended

While shamefully obvious, the general, vehicle-owning public still needs education on basic loss prevention.

Chances for auto theft can be substantially reduced by some incredibly simple behavior:

  • Lock your car
  • Hide valuables (such as placing them in a car's trunk)
  • Never leave a vehicle running and unattended
  • Be wary of staged accidents - if suspicious, stay in vehicle and summon police
  • Avoid known high crime areas while driving
  • Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn't have one and make it obvious that the vehicle includes a system
  • Park vehicles, whenever possible, it in a well-lit area
  • Have your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows

Whether you own a new car or old, a luxury car or a generic model, there are people with plenty of incentive who want to steal it…..practice basic loss prevention and minimize your chances of being an auto theft victim.

©The Rough Notes Company, Inc.

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