A recent study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau indicated a 9.2 percent increase in auto thefts last year compared to 2019, with 873,080 cars being stolen, making 2020 the largest theft year in the past decade. Factors including the pandemic, rise in unemployment, and a lack of outreach programs for youth are all thought to contribute to the increase in vehicle thefts. As many of us continue to work from home, use our vehicles less and leave them parked in the same location for longer periods of time, we need to be particularly vigilant and avoid complacency to prevent our cars from being stolen. Additionally, as spring break rolls around and many of us plan to head of out the city, we need to dedicate some time to safeguard our vehicles so they’re there when we get back.
The easiest thing you can do is get in the habit of locking your car and bringing you keys inside. In addition to locking your car, make sure your windows and car doors are fully closed as these can provide easy access to your vehicle. If your car doesn’t already have one, consider installing a car alarm that would alert you if someone tried to open your door or break a window. Visual devices such as armored collars, steering wheel locks, and brake locks can also deter someone from breaking in as it would take longer to steal the car. For a third layer of protection, you can use devices that would immobilize your vehicle such as a smart key, fuel switch, or a kill switch.
On average only about 50% of stolen vehicles are recovered. Adding a tracking device to your car can help authorities track your vehicle and return it you. If you’ve recently purchased your car, it may already have a tracking system built into the GPS, make sure you set it up and connect it as soon as possible.
A thief may not be looking to steal your entire car. Recently due to an increase in metal prices, people have been cutting off catalytic converters from vehicles. While all cars made after 1974 have converters some such as trucks and SUVs are more prone to theft because they’re easier to access and have more metal and a higher resell value. Prevent this from happening by installing a wire cage around your converter or welding it to the frame of your car.
Where you park can also make your car a target. Try to park in well-lit areas and check on your car frequently throughout the day. At night, install a camera and motion sensor lights in your driveway in case anyone tries to break in.
Make sure to have copies of your car registration, insurance, license plate as well as photos of your vehicle in case it does get stolen. Don’t hesitate to call law enforcement if you witness any suspicious activity taking place in your neighborhood.
If you’re planning on purchasing a vehicle, check the vin number to make sure you’re not purchasing a stolen one.
For more home and safety tips information, MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/HomeTravelSafety