According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s just released report, the top ten most stolen vehicles in 2008 were:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150
5. 2004 Dodge Ram
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 1999 Ford Taurus
10. 2002 Ford Explorer
Here are some startling auto theft statistics: One auto is stolen about every 25 seconds. Vehicle theft is the No. 1 property crime. It takes an expert car thief just seconds, and a screwdriver, to break-in to your vehicle. And less than one minute to drive it away.
So what can you do today to reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen? Take a look at these common sense ideas recommended by some security and law enforcement people: It sounds basic, but you'd be surprised how many people don't do it, for whatever reason. No excuses — when parked, lock your car (including completely closing your windows), and take your keys. Plus, never hide a second set of keys in your car.
Many vehicles are stolen while its keys are still in the ignition — so don't make it that easy for the criminals. When possible, park in well-lit areas, and attended parking lots.
Remember: If you must leave your key with a parking attendant, leave only the ignition key. Never leave your car running unattended, as cars are commonly stolen at convenience stores, ATMs, and other "quick-stop" type locations. Not only is leaving an unattended running vehicle very dangerous, it's also illegal in many areas. It’s a good idea to park your vehicle as close as possible to an open business. Don't tempt a thief by leaving valuables in plain sight. Secure your valuables in your trunk or cover them with a blanket. Always engage your emergency brake when parked. If you have a garage, use it. Be sure to secure your garage door as well. If you will be gone for an extended period of time, you may want to consider removing your car's distributor cap or the coil wire (check with your trusted auto repair shop for more information). Never leave your car's registration or title in the vehicle while it's parked (check local laws). You may want to replace any "T-shaped" doors locks with the harder to open "straight" locks. It's a good idea to perhaps etch your vehicle identification number (VIN) on your windows. Some police departments might offer this type etching at no or low cost to you. You may want to consider purchasing enhanced vehicle protection such as electronic security systems, vehicle tracking systems, ignition and fuel "kill" switches, steering wheel locks, floorboard locks that prevent the use of the gas and/or brake pedal, wheel or tire locks, protective collars around the steering column that deter criminals from reaching the ignition wires, and tracking devices.
If you decide to add any addition security devices to your vehicle, it is best to get quality products, and please note that security items should only be installed by qualified professionals.
For more information on auto-theft prevention, go to the National Insurance Crime Bureau website at www.nicb.org.
Also, contact the crime prevention officer at your local police department and check with your auto insurance company.
My Final Thoughts: If your vehicle is stolen, be sure to report it at once to your local police agency. It is vital to have your vehicle's license plate number and/or its VIN available so it can be listed as stolen. Your prompt reporting is one of the best chances you will have to recover your vehicle before it is taken to a chop shop for its parts or before it's used in a crime (stolen autos are frequently used to commit other crimes).
Please Note: If you somehow recover your own car, immediately advise the police. Otherwise, your car will be continued to be listed as stolen.
Copyright 2009 by Bruce Mandelblit
Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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