Car thieves are getting more sophisticated all the time, and with good reason. The lure of a quick, but highly illegal pay day, has triggered a crime way in stolen wheels in recent years.
According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 44 seconds. In its most recent review on the topic, the FBI reports that 707,758 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the United States in 2015, up 3.1 percent from 2014, according to the FBI.
How can you avoid being a statistic? By and large, the answer lies in both being aware, and taking aggressive steps to thwart auto thieves before they can roll away with your wheels.
5 Tips to Keep Your Car Safe
1. Hide your key. Auto thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated in plying their trade. Take, for example, the recent trend of criminals using so-called “scanner boxes” to pop a vehicle’s electronic lock in 10 seconds or less.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, scanners leverage the technology used for keyless auto entry, which enable car and truck owners ‘one-click access’ to their auto.
“Our law enforcement partners tell us they are seeing this type of criminal activity and have recovered some of the illegal devices,” Joe Wehrle, NICB’s president, said in a statement. “And unfortunately, some of these devices are available on the internet.”
Fight back against scanner boxes by parking your vehicle in a locked garage, or store your keys in a metal box, or hide them in a wallet or key-holder unit, like the Fob Guard pouch or wallets from Silent Pocket, which can thwart scanner-box auto thieves.
2. Reduce the odds of theft. Often, auto thieves are drawn to specific vehicles not because of the make and model, but by what’s inside the auto.
“I highly recommend not leaving items in plain view inside your vehicle and a security sticker that alerts would-be thieves to an alarm system you have or pretend to have can help prevent some thefts,” says James Johnson, founder and attorney at Johnson Attorneys Group in Newport Beach, California. “Park in a well-lit area or busy area where there is lots of traffic and avoid high crime neighborhoods if possible. If someone wants your car, they are going to steal it. Make sure you have good insurance to protect you if all else fails or you risk losing one of your biggest investments.”
3. Etch your VIN. Korey Adekoya, an analyst at Shabana Motors, in Houston, says that for an extra layer or protection, consider etching your VIN onto each of the windows and doors in your car.
“This means thieves will have to replace those parts if they’re planning on selling off your car and could discourage you as a target.”
4. Leverage technology, for your benefit. Consider placing a tracking device on your car, advises Adekoya.
“This means if it ever goes missing, you will be able to use the GPS system to lead police to the culprit.”
5. Brighten Up. “If a car alarm is activated, on most vehicles that means the lighting activates as well, and the brighter the lights, the better,” states TheAutoPartsWarehouse, in a “tips prevention” statement. “Most modern cars have perimeter lighting built into headlights, taillights, and mirrors to enhance safety and visibility.”
Make sure that all lights are working correctly and if they are cloudy, cracked, or flat-out broken replace them.
How can business owners protect their fleet?
If you’re a business owner with multiple cars and trucks, or even a fleet, you’ve got your work cut out for you against vehicle thieves.
“Cargo thieves are using increasingly sophisticated technology to steal shipments of cargo – even whole trucks,” says Scott Cornell, of the Special Investigators Group Travelers Insurance in New York City. “Use high security locks while cargo is staged. Use security equipment to secure trailers while they are being staged.”
King pin locks and landing gear locks are recommended along with high security locks on the cargo doors. And when tractors are married to trailers, air cuff locks are recommended, Cornell says.
Business owners should communicate consistently with dispatch drivers should maintain communication with dispatch during stops at high-risk areas such as truck stops and rest areas.
“They should inform dispatch of the address of the stop, duration of the stop and how long they will be away from the truck/cargo,” Cornell says. “Drivers should always have their cell phone when away from the load to protect cargo.”
No doubt, auto thieves are using technology to keep a step ahead of law enforcement, and car and truck owners, and show no signs of stopping for any red lights. Use the tips listed above to make that car thief’s job an uphill climb – your vehicle and your auto insurance company will thank you.