In the time it takes you to read this paragraph your vehicle may be one of more than 4.5 million reported stolen vehicles in the United States. One of very 42 registered vehicles was stolen or burglarized during 1990, almost a 5% increase over 1989. The loss to the public is estimated at $8 billion according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the 1990 FBI Uniform Crime Report.
In 1980 a vehicle theft occurred every 29 seconds. In 1990 it was every 19 seconds, over three thefts every minute. Vehicle theft is big business. The 5 states with the most vehicle thefts in 1990 are: California 302,214; New York 187,591; Texas 1154,415; Florida 106,902; and Illinois 74,473.
It happens so often that people rarely think much of it. It's as much a part of urban life as the sun coming up. Everybody knows someone who has had it happen to them maybe it's happened to you? Even an inexperienced car thief can steal certain kinds of cars in about ten to thirty seconds.
Some cars are easy to steal. Most of the time, when a juvenile commits their first felony crime, it is usually the theft of a car or truck.
Lastly, and one of the biggest reasons, is that most victims make it easy for the auto thief to steal their car. For example, nationwide investigators find that:
- 31% of all vehicle owners don't lock their doors.
- 80% of the vehicles that were stolen were left unlocked.
- 11% of owners admit that they sometimes leave their keys in the ignition.
- 40% of all car thefts actually had the keys left in the ignition.
Facts About Auto Theft
- The most frequent locations of auto theft are places where there are large numbers of cars parked, like apartments complexes and shopping centers.
- The most frequent times cars are reported stolen was from 10 pm to 7 am.
- The most common stolen vehicle is General Motors manufactured vehicles.
Protecting your vehicle is not as difficult as statistics may have you believe. The National Automobile Theft bureau offers the following 10 tips:
- Close all windows, lock your car and take the keys. An unlocked car is open invention to thieves.
- Park is a well lit area. Thieves like to work in the dark.
- Park with front wheels turned sharply right or left to make it difficult for professional thieves to tow your car.
- Park front wheel drive cars in 'park' (in gear with manual transmission) with the emergency brake on. That locks all 4 wheels and makes towing your car difficult.
- Put packages or valuables out of sight. Radios, tape decks, phones, etc...invite theft. Lock them in the trunk.
- Keep license and registration in your wallet or purse. If stolen with your car, thieves can use them to impersonate you and sell your car.
- If you have a garage, use it. Lock both car and garage.
- If you must leave a key with a lot attendant, leave only the ignition key. Make sure that it does not display your key number as it can then be easily duplicated.
- Install one or more anti-theft devices. 'Passive' systems activate automatically while 'Active' systems require you to turn them on. within these two broad categories are a wide variety of devices that activate sirens and lights, plus systems designed to lock up fuel, brake, ignition or steering systems. Prices range from $5 to over $800.
- Move to South Dakota, who continuously has had one of the lowest rates of car theft for the past 5 years.
No amount of prevention can guarantee that your car will not be stolen, but by taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the opportunity for the possible offender, and of becoming another auto theft victim.
- Never leave your keys in the ignition.
- Do not leave park cards in your vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen the card or ticket assist the exit and escape.
- Avoid parking at the end of a block where towing is much easier. When you park is a driveway, the front of the should be facing the street. Anyone tampering with the engine will be visible to the neighbors and police.
- Record your vehicle identification number. Keep a record of those number in your purse or wallet for in the event your vehicle is stolen. Also record the serial numbers of accessories such as cassettes, C.B.s, radar detectors, etc....
- Etching is a new process being used to combat auto theft. It consist of engraving your drives license or social security number in the vehicle.
- You can assist in the recovery of your vehicle should it be stolen by placing business cards or return address labels under the floor mats, behind the seats, or down the window chambers and inside the doors.
- Alarm systems that disable the started or fuel systems are effective against theft. PLEASE adjust your alarm in a way that eliminates false alarms. If your systems is set to a too sensitive setting, the numerous false alarms will be ignored defeating the purpose of the alarm.
- Install a hidden ignition switch.