Fight against car theft

Car anti-theft advances are now a very important part of the car buying decision for consumers. You would think that with all these new theft devices you can find in new cars, auto theft would be all but extinct. Sadly though, nothing could be further from the truth as the stolen car industry is still big business today. Anti-theft security systems can really only do so much to combat theft.

Recently, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that vehicle theft rates increased by nearly 14,000 to 1.26 billion vehicles. This increase marks the fourth year in a row that the auto theft rate has risen. However, the National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests a number of methods to help car owners avoid vehicle theft. Let’s face it, anti-theft systems can actually cost a lot of money, but at least most reputable car insurance companies offer you some sort of discount if a car owner has certain types of anti-theft devices on their cars.

According to the NICB, the total loss to homeowners and insurance companies due to vehicle theft is more than $8 billion annually, a number that rises each year as cars and trucks become more expensive. In fact, the median value of cars reported stolen rose $96 to $6,797 according to the Insurance Information Institute. Thefts also cost consumers higher annual insurance premiums.

Where you live is also an important factor according to reports from the NICB, which advises that homeowners who live in an urban area, a port city, or a town that borders Canada or Mexico should consider additional protection. The NICB lists the 10 cities, including surrounding counties, with the highest auto thefts from highest to lowest: Modesto, California; Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona; Stockton-Lodi, Calif.; The Vegas, Nevada; Sacramento, California; Fresno, California; Oakland, Calif.; Miami Florida; San Diego, California; and Detroit, Mich.

The car you drive affects your chances of being robbed. The NICB listed, from largest to smallest, the 2000 Honda Civic, 1989 Toyota Camry, 1991 Honda Accord, 1994 Chevrolet 1500 Pickup, 1994 Dodge Caravan, 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup, 1986 Toyota Pickup, Acura Integra 1995, the 1987 Nissan Sentra and 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass as the most frequently stolen vehicles in 2003, the latest year for which data is available.

Here are some helpful tips to protect your cars from car theft.

1. Never hide your car keys in or around your car, thieves know where to look.

2. Never leave valuables in plain sight; Leaving valuables on your seat only tempts thieves.

3. Credit cards, check stubs, and personal IDs should never be left in your car or you may become a victim of identity theft along with auto theft.

4. Never leave car registrations or titles on the car, making it easy for theft to sell your car.

5. Always park in well-lit areas, especially parking lots.

6. Thieves will tow your car, so remember to leave a standard gear and automatics always engage the emergency parking brakes.

7. Lock your garage door when your car is parked and make sure all other doors and windows are locked as well.

8. Don’t be fooled if you think your car is too old, the age of the car doesn’t matter to car thieves.

While nothing is complete proof, many of the cars stolen each year could have been prevented if car owners had remembered to take some of these basic precautions.

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