December 9, 2015
According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, one vehicle is stolen about every 30 seconds in the U.S., which amounts to more than 1 million stolen U.S. vehicles annually and upwards of $7.6 billion in vehicle losses.
Despite the tremendous expense involved when a car is stolen, many consumers still aren’t preparing in advance to handle the possibility of a vehicle theft. A number of common misconceptions have contributed to consumers adopting a defeatist attitude about vehicle theft. There are a number of vehicle owners that feel it’s all but impossible to prevent becoming a victim of vehicle theft, even when protective methods like anti-theft devices are used. This type of defeatist attitude can have serious and unnecessary consequences for vehicle owners.
The Wiser Drivers Wise Up project was started by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Insurance Information Institute and the National Insurance Crime Bureau to dispel the defeatist attitude and teach drivers how to handle their vehicle being stolen. The program includes five auto theft myths that can actually leave a vehicle owner more vulnerable to having their vehicle stolen:
1. Older vehicles aren’t targeted by thieves.
Statistics clearly show this myth isn’t true. For example, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that among the top stolen model years for 2014 were: 1994 Honda Accord, 1995 Honda Civic, 1991 Toyota Camry, 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup and 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup.
2. The majority of vehicle thefts occur in unprotected areas.
Again, statistics clearly disprove this myth.
According to one FBI report on the subject, more than a third of all vehicle thefts take place from a home. The same report showed that only two in 10 vehicle thefts take place in a parking lot and that only a very small number of vehicles are stolen or carjacked along roadways, highways and alleys. So, parking in an area felt to be secure doesn’t decrease the likelihood of your vehicle being stolen.
3. Anti-theft devices aren’t hard to install.
Unless you’re trained on the complexities of a vehicle’s electronic workings, then it’s best to pay for a professional to install, wire and test the anti-theft device for you. It might be tempting to go with the cheapest price, but keep in mind that a cheap price doesn’t always equate to a bargain. Check with the Better Business Bureau to help you determine if the installer is running a reputable business, especially if a business is offering a substantial price difference from their competitors. If the technician that will be installing your alarm system hasn’t been certified by the Mobile Electronics Certification Program (MECP), then you might want to consider a different installer. Make sure that the installer provides instruction on how the alarm system works and is operated. You will also want a written warranty from the installer.
4. The police usually find stolen vehicles.
Only half of all stolen vehicles are ever recovered. The first few days following the theft will be critical, as the chance of recovery diminishes with each day the thief possesses it. The highest number of vehicle thefts occur on Saturdays and Fridays. The highest number of recoveries are from vehicle thefts occurring on a Monday or Tuesday.
5. Insurance companies always provide victims of vehicle theft with a rental car.
Check your policy; while theft coverage is part of a comprehensive auto insurance policy, it may or may not include a rental replacement car following a theft.
Vehicle owners shouldn’t make the costly mistake of assuming vehicle theft is an inevitable occurrence. It’s also advisable to do an annual review of your auto policy for mandatory coverages, needed coverages and coverage features like rentals and roadside assistance.
Some tips to consider:
- Install an anti-theft device.
- Never leave the keys in the vehicle, or the vehicle running, while unattended.
- Keep doors locked at all times, and windows up.
- Never store valuables or packages in plain sight.
- Have your VIN etched into windows and other parts of your car, making resell on the black market more difficult.
- When parking on the street, turn your wheels, use your emergency brake and park between other cars (making it harder for a thief to tow).
- Avoid parking in long-term lots if at all possible.
- Park in a safe, well-lit or well-traveled area at night.
For more tips, visit our Safety & Information Center