The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released new 2009 statistics that finds auto thefts are down to its lowest level in 20 years at 794,616 thefts and down 17 percent from last year. However, all the news isn’t good. The recovery of the stolen vehicles also declined, with only 42 percent recovered--the lowest rate in 25 years. Over $5 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft, with the average loss per vehicle at $6,505.
One reason for the low recovery rate is that thieves are increasingly savvy. These acts are seldom the work of joyriding teenagers, but rather calculated abductions by professional thieves. That makes it harder to recover because they are stripped for parts and sold on the black market.
Just last month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) published the list of the highest insurance claims with the Cadillac Escalade making the top spot.
While it is good news that these crimes are going down, you still need to be extra vigilant to protect yourself and your vehicle from being a target for thieves. Remember, you’re not just deterring a casual theft, but a skilled bandit.
Tips to prevent your car from being stolen:
- Lock your car. It is common sense that many thefts happen to unlocked vehicles. The goal is to make your car less desirable than others, and a locked door is a simple deterrent.
- Never leave your car running unattended and always take your keys with you. Otherwise, you are inviting thieves to drive off with your car.
- Keep windows closed when you park and leave your vehicle. A slender arm or clothes hanger can reach in through even a narrow opening to unlock the door.
- Don’t store valuables or expensive electronic devices in plain sight. It’s best to take portable devices with you.
- Park in a well-lighted, public place when running errands and when at home. A car will be safer in a garage than in a driveway or at a curb.
- Use a visual warning device, such as a blinking light, as a deterrent. An alarm can be effective, but it is even better if the crook doesn’t break into the vehicle in the first place. If your car is not factory-equipped with these features, they can be installed at a local automotive stereo shop.
- Smart keys or a fuel cut-offs system, aka engine immobilizer, are standard on many late-model cars and can add security. Thieves won’t steal a car they cannot start.
- For advanced protection, install a GPS or radio frequency tracking system in your vehicle to help police find it.