Preventing Car Theft

A professional car theif can steal any car but why make it easy for them when there are many simple things that car owners can do to help prevent their car from being stolen.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) states that over 5 million vehicles are stolen each year. These statistics suggest that car theft is the second-most popular felony second only to being a drug dealer. If the vehicle theft "industry" were organized as a single company, its net worth would rank it in the top 60 largest corporations in the nation and undoubtedly one of the most profitable as well.

Most states have started their own task force, which is made up of key members in law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and other business and community organizations who share the common goal of reducing vehicle theft. While their goals all include finding ways to reduce the number of stolen vehicles, results are designed to also include an overall reduction in crime and lower insurance premiums statewide.

A professional car theif can steal any car but why make it easy for them? There are many simple things that car owners can do to help prevent their car from being stolen. Start with locking your car doors. Some may say this is stating the obvious, however, it is a fact that about 20% of car owners do not lock their car doors on a regular basis.

Remember to remove your keys from the ignition and close all windows as well. Turn your tires toward the curb and park in a public, well-lighted area. Over 65% of stolen vehicles are recovered each year but often it is a simple process to avoid being a victim in the first place.

CHOOSING A CAR

In an effort to discourage theft perhaps it would be noteworthy to look at the type of vehicles at the top of a thief's shopping list and avoid purchasing those vehicles if you live in a high theft area or reside in a port or border community.

If you think that new and flashy sports cars would be at the top of a thief's list you would be wrong. Most vehicles stolen are over 4 years old and include pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles. What type of vehicle is stolen the most follows the market's demand for the area you live in. Chevrolet and other American made cars are more attractive to thieves in cities such as Chicago, while pickups are more frequently stolen in the western U.S.



PREVENTION DEVICES

Using several anti-theft devices together can often be the best protection you can use and may give you a discount on your insurance. Anti-Theft devices are readily available and are categorized as a locking device, Cut-off Device (designed to render the vehicle undrivable) or in the form of a car alarm.

You can purchase a locking device for the steering wheel, often referred to as a club or steel bar that attaches to the wheelbase. Steering column collars are also an effective way to deter a thief by guarding entry to the ignition. Tire wheel locks and gearshaft locks both prevent the car from being moved as well.

Cut-off devices are created with a switch that kills the ignition or the fuel system at the owners will.

More common but not necessarily as effective would be using a car alarm. Generally audible at 300 feet, alarms often have auxiliary power if the main power source is disconnected but either way they are generally only set to sound for 4 continuous minutes. Alarms are available in many forms from the common motion sensor to a glass sensor that goes off if it detects the sound of breaking glass or even a vibration sensor if the vehicle is moved, bumped or climbed into.

Newer vehicles now commonly offer built in tracking devices as well. Nothing more than a homing transmitter, it allows the vehicle to be located. Some locators are equipped with LOJACK, a stolen vehicle recovery system that automatically alerts a monitoring center in case of theft.

OTHER STEPS TO PREVENT THEFT

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) prevents fraud and theft by focusing on analysis, trends and forecasting, providing what they call "predictable knowledge". They also publish a Passenger Vehicle Identification Manual annually and it is free to most agencies with a small fee to the general public. It contains VIN numbers, structure and decoding from the last 5 model years for US and Canadian cars, trucks, motorcycles and even snowmobiles and boats.

Vehicle owners should keep a file of their motor vehicle identification number (VIN) and make sure that their vehicle is permanently marked on at least two windows of the motor vehicle through etching or other means. Thieves are in the business to turn a profit and replacing windows can be costly.

Technology is always coming up with new and innovative ways to encode vehicle parts with the owner's information, preventing disassembly and re-sale of stolen car parts. DataDots are one such anti-theft device made up of many tiny microdots that can be attached throughout the vehicles engine, stereo and car body panels. Visible only to a black light this technology may prove to be an excellent preventative measure.

© High Speed Ventures 2011