For many people, their personal or family vehicle is one of their most valuable assets. It could be an expensive convertible or a thousand-dollar jalopy, but it still gives you the freedom to go wherever and whenever without relying on others.
So, it can be devastating both financially and emotionally when a thief steals items from inside your vehicle, items inside your vehicle, or even the vehicle itself.
Let’s look at some telling facts about car theft and some practical ideas and tools to prevent it.
4 Facts About Car Theft
The Insurance Information Institute (III) published a recent study showing automotive theft statistics from the last couple of years. Here are some findings worth noting:
- In 2019, more than $6.4 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in the U.S.
- Out of every 100,000 people, 220 will have their vehicles stolen.
- California experiences the highest rate of vehicle theft while Vermont experiences the lowest.
- Older-model Honda Civics and full-size Ford pickups are the most frequently stolen vehicles. Experts believe this is owing to the lack of anti-theft technology in older models and the simplistic design that makes it easy to penetrate. The Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry models are next in line for most stolen.
4 Ways to Prevent Car Theft
Thankfully, vehicle thefts are trending downward after a peak in 1991. Updated security measures in vehicles, new law enforcement efforts, antitheft programs, and community-wide efforts to stop crime have all made it safer for us to park our vehicles.
But it’s still important to do your due diligence and keep your car and belongings safe. Here are some things you can do.
Park Where Security Services Are Present
Whenever possible, choose a parking lot that has security services on-site, even if you have to pay to park there. It might be a little farther away from your destination or cost a little extra, but it will significantly reduce your risk of being a car theft victim as theft occurs much less frequently in monitored parking lots. It also increases the chances of any thief being apprehended and you getting your things back.
If you can’t park where there are security services, look for parking areas with video surveillance nearby. For example, a business might have an outdoor video camera facing the street. If you park near this business, you’ll have video surveillance on your side.
With or without security services in place, you’ll want to pack smart. Find a spot that’s well-lit where thieves won’t have the cover of darkness to hide their actions.
Avoid areas that have a history of car theft or crime. If you’re worried about parking your vehicle in an area, consider ordering a taxi or other ride so that you can have safe and timely transportation there and back, but you won’t have to leave your car in a risky place.
Upgrade Your Vehicle Carefully
Many homeowners aren’t aware that the upgrades made to their vehicles might not be legal. State by state, there will be unique legislation designed to maintain the safety and environmental health of community members.
If you’ve made illegal aftermarket upgrades, it not only increases your likelihood of getting a ticket, but it also makes you a target for theft. Things like tinted windows, high-performance mufflers, neon lighting, high or low clearance changes, and other upgrades may be attractive to vehicle thieves wanting to get parts for black market deals. There is a large black market space for auto parts dealt without the use of legal modern distribution solutions.
Talk to a trusted mechanic about aftermarket upgrades to make sure you’re in compliance with laws and won’t be a target for carjackers.
Lock Your Vehicle and Store Belongings Out of Sight
Although some vehicle thefts involve a car being stolen, most vehicle theft events involve things being stolen out of the vehicle. The simplest way to prevent this is to store belongings out of sight. Put them under the seat, in a glove box, or in the trunk. Most importantly, don’t leave a spare key in your car, especially if it can be seen from the outside.
Avoid storing valuable items under blankets or large coats. This only piques the curiosity of thieves rather than deterring them.
Always lock your vehicle and turn on anti-theft measures like a car alarm. You can also add anti-theft devices like a steering wheel lock, window etching, or video cameras to deter theft. These are simple steps that will save you thousands in the long run.
It only takes a few minutes for a good carjacker to penetrate your vehicle and take off with your car or belongings. Likewise, it only takes a few minutes for you to ensure that safety measures are in place and your car will be protect from theft.