Everyone is susceptible to vehicle theft, whether they live in a metropolitan area, the neighboring suburbs or the rural countryside. In fact, after a downward trend in the frequency of vehicle thefts, there was a dramatic increase in 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
According to an NICB study, there were 873,080 vehicle thefts in 2020, a 9.2% increase over 2019. The NICB said the pandemic, economic downturn, loss of juvenile outreach programs, and public safety budgetary and resource limitations are likely contributing factors to this increase.
Thieves are opportunity seekers, often seeking vehicles that are consistently parked in the same location or that are unsecured. While not everyone will have their vehicle stolen, an increase in vehicle crimes can increase insurance rates. The NICB reported that about one-fourth of a typical comprehensive auto insurance premium pays for auto theft claims.
Anti-theft Safeguards to Follow
Adding multiple layers of protection can help safeguard your vehicle against theft. The NICB recommends the following:
- Basic protections—Always remove keys from the ignition, lock doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas. Don’t leave your car unlocked and unattended with the engine running. Never store spare keys inside your vehicle. Safely hide valuables from plain sight.
- Warning devices—Aftermarket alarms are available for all makes and models of cars.
A qualified mechanic can install a visible and audible alarm system in your vehicle. Visual devices include column collars, steering wheel locks and brake locks.
- Immobilizing devices—Prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring your vehicle with an immobilizing device. Many options are available, including smart keys; fuse cut-offs, kill switches; starter, ignition and fuel pump disablers; and wireless ignition authentication. To determine the best device for your vehicle, seek the advice of a qualified mechanic.
- Tracking devices—Tracking devices are very effective in recovering stolen vehicles. A qualified mechanic can install a tracking system in your vehicle that emits a signal to the police or a monitoring service if it is stolen. Some systems combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of your vehicle. If a thief moves your vehicle, the system alerts you and you can track it on your computer.
Thieves can steal any vehicle, but, by adding layers of protection, you can make your vehicle a more difficult target for criminals.