In 2015, nearly three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States, and vehicle theft costs vehicle owners $5 billion annually. But you can protect your ride. July is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, so NHTSA is reminding you of a few simple yet important tips that can help you avoid being a victim.
DON’T MAKE YOUR VEHICLE A TARGET
Nearly half of vehicle theft is due to driver error, such as leaving your keys in the vehicle. Use common sense by always:
- Taking your keys and not leaving them in or on your vehicle
- Closing windows and locking doors
- Parking in well-lit areas
- Never leaving valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen
- Never leaving the area while your vehicle is running
- Keeping your vehicle in your garage, if possible
PROTECT YOUR VEHICLE
There are several different types of antitheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover. Here’s how some of them work:
Audible and Visible Devices – such as a horn alarm – deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter your 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 prevent thieves from bypassing your 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 helps law enforcement reveal the location of other stolen vehicles—and possibility catch the thief in the act.
WHERE’S MY RIDE?
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your vehicle has been stolen, follow these steps:
- Contact police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You’ll 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 when you discovered your vehicle was stolen.
- If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.
Vehicle thefts happen once about every 45 seconds in America, so take a few extra moments to protect your ride.