15 tips to help you deter auto theft at your business
- A vehicle is stolen every 39 seconds in the U.S.
- Top 10 cities with the most vehicle thefts are Bakersfield, CA; Yuba City, CA; Denver, CO; Odessa, TX; San Francisco, CA; Albuquerque, NM; Pueblo, CO; Billings, MT; Tulsa, OK; and San Jose, CA.
- Learn 15 tips to help you deter auto theft, from removing packages and hiding vehicle titles to nighttime precautions.
- If your vehicles don’t have anti-theft devices, here’s a list of them to consider adding.
Every year there are more than 880,000 vehicle thefts across the U.S., with only 56 percent ever recovered. That’s one vehicle stolen every 36 seconds. Since July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention month, we’re discussing how to deter auto theft with a host of theft prevention tips from a multitude of sources. Some are just plain common sense; some will require installing extra security devices.
Vehicle theft is a multi-billion-dollar crime, costing vehicle owners more than $7 billion in 2020 alone. Passenger cars made up more than 74% of all stolen motor vehicles.
Here’s an important statistic: About half of vehicle thefts are caused by driver error, says NHTSA. That’s keys left in vehicles, vehicles left running, vehicles left unlocked, packages and other items left in plain sight in a vehicle and more.
While car theft occurs everywhere in America, it’s most common in Western states. Insurify has determined the 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of vehicle theft are all located in the West; California has four cities in the top ten, including the top two.
How to deter auto theft? Use these 15 tips
Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft. Now that summer is well underway, consider these top 15 tips from GEICO, CNET and Allstate to help you learn how to deter auto theft at your business.
- Always keep your vehicle locked, even while driving.
- Never leave your car running and unattended, even for a couple of minutes.
- Never leave your keys in the car. Close all windows and the sunroof.
- Secure your keys when you leave your car. Don’t leave them “hidden” inside the car. Thieves know where to look. Don’t store a spare key in the car either. With today’s push-start features, if the vehicle senses a key nearby, it will start.
- Don’t leave any packages or valuables in plain sight inside your vehicle.
- Don’t leave your vehicle title in an obvious spot in the car (i.e., your glovebox). Geico says too often car thieves are pulled over and get away from the police because they can produce the auto registration. They recommend hiding the registration in a secret location in the car that only the owners know.
- Avoid known high crime areas, even if the alternate route takes longer.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations and at night.
- If you have a car alarm, activate it. If you don’t, consider installing an anti-theft system. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they know the cars can be recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for these systems.
- Thieves prefer to work in the dark. Be particularly cautious at night about where you park. Choose a well-lit area if possible. Look for spots below a CCTV camera or other security device. Just the prospect of being caught on camera can be enough to discourage a thief.
- Protect your car’s wheels, because they’re easy to steal and resell. Approximately $1 million in tires are stolen annually, and that doesn’t include wheel covers. CNET says devices that can be used to secure your car’s wheels include lug nut locks and wheel clamps — though the latter is probably only worth the inconvenience when you’re leaving your car unattended for a longer period of time, or you’re in a particularly high-crime area.
- Have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each window. Car thieves don’t want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass, so they’ll look elsewhere.
- Make sure your vehicles are covered by a comprehensive policy.
- If you park on an incline, turn your wheels toward the curb or another obstruction, making it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle.
- If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can’t.
Infographic provided by NHTSA.
Additional safety devices
If your business is in a higher crime area, or your company vehicles often visit such an area, you may want to consider additional deterrents such as
- A vehicle immobilizer prevents a thief from starting without the key, which can prevent hot-wiring. CNET says newer vehicles usually have these built-in, but you can buy aftermarket immobilizers for older vehicles. Ignition cut-off systems also prevent a car from being started incorrectly.
- Recovery devices use electronic transmission technology to help law enforcement track and locate stolen vehicles.
- Audible and visible devices have been around for years, but combining these with other deterrents may be enough to make a thief look elsewhere for an easier theft. Audible devices that cause a honking horn draw attention to the vehicle; visual devices such as steering wheel locks, window etching and theft deterrent decals can help.
If your vehicle is stolen
Contact the police immediately, and provide them with the information below. Also contact your insurance company within 24 hours of the theft. If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.
- The year, make, model and color of the car
- License plate number
- Vehicle Identification Number