If you’re like most people, you believe you’re pretty well versed when it comes to protecting your car from thieves. If that were the case, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center wouldn’t be reporting these chilling statistics:
- Every 27 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States.
- The odds of a vehicle being stolen were 1 in 196 in 2000.
- The odds are highest in urban areas.
- Only 14.1 percent of thefts resulted in arrests during 2000.
- The FBI’s 2002 Uniform Crime Report, released October 27, 2003, indicates there were more than 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts in the United States in 2002 with an estimated value of approximately $8.4 billion dollars.
- Only 65 percent of stolen vehicles were recovered in 2002.
These statistics paint a serious picture that reminds us not to take our vehicles for granted. Many times we forget basic prevention techniques that can put our cars in jeopardy.
For example, when you leave your car, never leave the motor running – even if you think you will only be gone a couple of minutes. Those few minutes are all it takes for a would-be car thief to easily drive away in a new vehicle.
When you park your car, be sure to roll up the windows and lock the doors. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you park in your own driveway. It’s not uncommon for thieves to try a door handle of a car in driveway because they assume that it was probably left unlocked. If you have a garage, park your car in it and lock the garage door, even if you intend to use the car later on. It may seem like a lot of trouble if you are planning to leave the house again soon, but it’s better than going to the garage only to find your car missing.
When you park at your destination, turn your wheels sharply toward the curb. This makes it very difficult for thieves to tow the vehicle. Always put on your emergency brake and leave the transmission either in park or in gear. If a valet parks your car, only leave the ignition key with the attendant. It goes with out saying that if you park at night, park in busy, well-lit areas.
Think about equipping your car with various anti-theft devices. Ask about car insurance discounts for anti-theft devices such as alarms, window etchings, and anti-hot-wiring devices.
Finally, when you buy car stereo equipment, be sure to choose items that can be removed
and locked in the trunk. Nothing is more tempting to a car thief than to see if he can make that expensive audio equipment his own.