Home > Ask Gary, Uncategorized > How rampant is car theft or breaking into cars? Are there any ways to prevent theft beyond locking doors?

How rampant is car theft or breaking into cars? Are there any ways to prevent theft beyond locking doors?

CarParkedinDarkJuly is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month all across the nation as sponsored by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) because July and August are the months when more cars are stolen. Vehicle theft is a very expensive crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles estimated at more than $4.1 billion nationally. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all vehicle theft is due to driver error and therefore, preventable. Nearly 45 percent of the vehicles are never recovered.
Vehicle crime comes in various forms:
• Theft of vehicle
• Theft of vehicle contentsCar theft
• Airbag theft
• Insurance fraud
• Mileage/odometer fraud.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 689,527 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the United States in 2014, down 1.5 percent from 2013 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the FBI, which is the equivalent of a vehicle being stolen in the United States every 46 seconds. Fortunately auto thefts have trended downward for the last 25 years since they peaked in 1991 with 1.6 million thefts. Though auto theft is down, theft of parts such as airbags are a continuing problem. I’m pleased to report that New Hampshire has the 3rd lowest vehicle theft rate in the nation (64 thefts) and Massachusetts is one of the lower states with 122 thefts. Maine and Vermont are among the lowest theft rates in the nation.
Surveys show that auto theft rates are down as 79% of drivers always lock their vehicles and 93% never leave spare keys in their vehicle. However, the survey also found three causes for higher theft rates:
• 33% admit they have left their car while it was running, which makes the vehicle an easy target for theft.
• 47% don’t always park in a well-lit area.
• 40% don’t hide their valuables. In fact, nearly half leave mail in their vehicle, a quarter have left a purse or wallet, and almost a third have left bank statements, all of which can put them at risk for identity theft.stealing purse
Because the Toyota Camry is one of the top selling vehicles in America, it remains on the top 10 list of stolen vehicles and most often stolen for parts. However, Toyota Scion and Volvo reported the lowest theft rates, according to the insurance industry.
Airbag theft has quickly become a new crime in America. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, statistics show that approximately 50,000 airbags are stolen each year, resulting in an annual loss of more than $50 million to vehicle owners and their insurers.  Airbags have quickly become a primary accessory on the black market for stolen vehicle parts. A new airbag, which retails for approximately $1,000 from a car dealer, costs between $50 – $200 on the black market.
Because of their portability, airbags can be easily removed and installed as “new” by unscrupulous collision repair shops. These dishonest operators will then charge the vehicle owner or their insurer the full price for the replacement, thus committing insurance fraud.
Fraud and Theft Prevention Tips 
The National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests the following prevention tips:
Use a reputable automobile collision repair shop that employs ASE-certified mechanics, such as Jaffarian Volvo Toyota’s Service Department or Body Shop.
• Inspect the invoice to ensure the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer or recycler.  If possible, inspect the airbag prior to installation. If new, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
• Notice if the trim cover over the steering column is the same color as the remaining interior trim. If not, it is an indication that the original airbag has been replaced.
• When you turn on your vehicle’s ignition, a red SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) indicator should light up and flash in the instrument panel display, indicating the airbag system is activated.  No SRS light indicates a problem with the airbag system that could result in the airbag not activating.
• Park in well-lit areas.
• Lock valuables in your trunk.
• Never leave your motor running while you run in to a store. Experienced auto thieves can steal a car in one minute.
• Keep windows shut or leave open minimally.
• Stay away from parking lot and garage exits –Thieves are more likely to try to steal cars close to the parking lot or garage exits, because they will have a faster getaway. Try to park in the middle of a row of cars in a heavily trafficked area of the lot or garage. Making sure your car blends in is a good strategy to avoid car theft.
• If you live or work in a high auto theft area, you may want to invest in special alarm or tracking devices. Malls are often a target for vehicle theft. Have an alarm system professionally installed in your car that will notify you immediately if your car has been tampered with. Loud alarms will quickly deter car theft, and some systems can be programmed to automatically summon police. Alarm system professionals can also recommend systems to deactivate your car’s ignition system, requiring a key or activator to start the vehicle.
Stay safe, alert and aware. If you see someone or something suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it to the local or state police.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

P.S. I want to remind you about an issue that is a matter of life or death. NEVER leave your child or pet in a hot vehicle. Many people report seeing children or pets in hot cars in this weather and report it to the police. The drivers are subject to fines and/or imprisonment for endangering a child or pet. While you can take a child into a store or business, dogs are particularly vulnerable. Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car—even for “just a minute”—while they run an errand. Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Categories: Ask Gary, Uncategorized
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