In the United States, a vehicle is stolen every 21 seconds. Stolen cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles cost victims time and money -- and increase everyone’s insurance premiums. They’re also often used to commit other crimes. Don’t become a victim of this serious crime. The National Crime Prevention offers tips to protect yourself from the crime.
The Basic Prevention Policy
- Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you’re away from it, even for “just a minute.”
- Always roll up the windows and lock the car, even if it’s in front of your home.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk or at least out of sight. Buy radios and tape and CD players that can be removed and locked in the trunk.
- Park in busy, well-lighted areas.
- Carry the registration and insurance card with you. Don’t leave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
- When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached. Do the same when you take your car for repairs.
Add Extra Protection
- Install a mechanical locking device -- commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars -- that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees. Use it!
- Investigate security systems if you live in a high-theft area or drive an automobile that’s an attractive target for thieves. You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
- Look into CAT (Combat Auto Theft) and HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) partnership programs where individuals voluntarily register their cars with the police, and allow the police to stop the car during certain hours when they normally would not be driving (such as midnight to 5 a.m.). All participants display decals in a designated area on their vehicles.
What About Carjacking?
- Carjacking -- stealing a car by force -- has captured headlines in the last few years. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim, and preventive actions can reduce the risk even more.
- Etch the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the windows, doors, fenders, and trunk lid. This helps discourage professional thieves who have to either remove or replace etched parts before selling the car. Copy the VIN and your tag number on a card and keep it in a safe place. If your vehicle is stolen, the police need this information.
- Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside before getting in.
- When driving, keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
- Be especially alert at intersections, gas stations, ATMs, shopping malls, convenience and grocery stores -- all are windows of opportunity for carjackers.
- Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways, stores, and people.
- If the carjacker has a weapon, give up the car with no questions asked. Your life is worth more than a car.
Beware Of the "Bump-and-Rob"
- It works like this. A car, usually with a driver and at least one passenger, rear-ends or “bumps” you in traffic. You get out to check the damage. The driver or one of the passengers jumps in your car and drives off.
- If you’re bumped by another car, look around before you get out. Make sure there are other cars around, then check out the car that’s rear-ended you and who’s in it. If the situation makes you uneasy, stay in the car and insist on moving to a police station or busy, well-lighted area to exchange information.