Everybody loves driving a nice car; but not everybody is willing to pay for one. It is possible that a potential thief may be coveting your car even as you read these words. However, you don’t have to be left vulnerable. The savvy car owner knows that taking a proactive approach can lessen the likelihood of a vehicle being stolen.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight insurance fraud and vehicle theft for the benefit of its member insurance companies, their policyholders, and the general public. As part of their public awareness campaign, they compile an annual list of the top ten most stolen cars. The list for 2003 by make, model, and model year included:
1. 2000 Honda Civic
2. 1989 Toyota Camry
3. 1991 Honda Accord
4. 1994 Chevrolet Full Size C/K 1500 Pickup
5. 1994 Dodge Caravan
6. 1997 Ford F150 Series
7. 1986 Toyota Pickup
8. 1995 Acura Integra
9. 1987 Nissan Sentra
10. 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass
The NCIB also discovered through its research that in 2003, 1,260,471 motor vehicles were reported stolen at an estimated value of over $8 billion. Since recovery rates are only about 65%, that means a tremendous number of vehicles are either cut up for parts, exported to other countries, or reappear as clones, the latest trend in an ever-growing list of fraudulent car schemes.
But the organization doesn’t stop at compiling statistics. It has formulated what it calls its “layered approach” to auto theft protection by putting together some suggestions to make vehicles less attractive to thieves. NICB’s four layers are:
- Use common senseand take advantage of what’s already available to you. The first line of defense is to use the anti-theft devices that are standard on all vehicles – the locks. Always lock your car and take your keys.
- Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can abort a potential robbery before it happens.
- “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs, and smart keys are examples of how technology can be extremely effective in stopping a thief in his tracks. Chances are, if your car won’t start, it won’t get stolen.
- The more expensive high tech tracking devices can alert you and law enforcement the moment an unauthorized driver decides to take your vehicle. Using one of these items will ensure that the local police will apprehend the car thief.
One final thing to remember about auto theft is that it doesn’t always happen when your car is use. It can happen when you take it to the garage for repair. Always be sure that when your vehicle is damaged, that you take it to a reputable repair shop. It is an unfortunate fact of life that some less than ethical garage owners can see your car as supplemental income by having it “stolen” and cut up for parts. It is important to know whom you are entrusting your car to so that you don’t end up in the market for a new automobile.