July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 800,000 drivers fall victim to this costly crime each year.
In 2020, more than three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States—and about half of those thefts were due to driver error. 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. Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft. So, to help drivers keep their vehicles safe, NHTSA is continuing its annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Campaign during July — National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.
A motor vehicle was stolen every 39 seconds in the United States in 2020.
Use common sense when parking and exiting your vehicle:
- Take your vehicle''s key; do not leave it in or on your vehicle.
- Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
- Park in well-lit areas if possible.
- Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially if they can be seen from outside the vehicle.
Thieves want vehicle parts and valuable items, too.
Radios and wheel covers aren''t the only popular stolen vehicle parts thieves take. They want whatever sells, from the mandated labeled parts to those that aren''t. Some of the most popular vehicle parts or valuable items stolen from vehicles include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses.
There are numerous antitheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover. Here are how some of them work:
- Audible and Visible Devices: These devices, such as a horn alarm, deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle. Visible devices create a visual threat/warning/deterrence, such as the use of steering-wheel locks, as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights, and window etching.
- Immobilizing-Type Devices: These prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.
- Vehicle Recovery Systems: These devices use electronic transmission technology that help law enforcement reveal the location of stolen vehicles—and possibly catch the thief in the act.
If you are a victim of vehicle theft, follow these steps:
- Contact police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You will need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may also be asked to provide the following information:
- License plate number;
- Make, model, and color of your vehicle; and
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and any identifying characteristics.
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of your vehicle being stolen.
- If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.
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