08 Oct How to Safeguard Your Vehicle from Thieves
How to Safeguard Your Vehicle from Thieves
Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are stolen each year in the United States. There are four steps you can take to avoid becoming a theft statistic and safeguard your company’s valuable rolling asset.
Vehicle theft is one of the costliest crimes in the country, resulting in almost $6 billion in losses in 2016 (the latest year for which there are statistics), according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to NHTSA, a vehicle is stolen every 41 seconds in the United States. Though even the most elaborate security systems are not 100% foolproof, drivers can take a number of steps to decrease the likelihood their vehicle will be targeted as an easy mark and become a theft statistic.
A Layered Approach to Security
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) suggests a four-tiered approach to protecting your vehicle, ranging from preventive measures to devices to help recover stolen vehicles:
- Common Sense: Common sense measures are the first line of defense in car security. Locking doors, putting valuable items out of sight, and parking in well-lighted areas or garages are actions that any driver can take to discourage thieves and improve safety. However, common sense safety measures only deter the least-determined thieves, and the NICB recommends car owners take further steps to increase vehicle security.
- Warning Devices: These are security devices that communicate to potential thieves that the car is protected. Locking your steering wheel with a security club, for example, indicates that deterrents are in place to prevent thieves from stealing the vehicle. Flashing security dash lights and window stickers can also communicate that trying to break into a car will set off an alarm or notify the owner.
- Immobilizing Devices: Immobilizing devices stop thieves from using the vehicle, whether they’re trying to bypass the ignition or “hotwire” your vehicle. Installing a hidden kill switch that prevents the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine will make it difficult for any thief to leave with your vehicle if they manage to get into your car.
- Tracking Devices: If someone manages to bypass all other security measures and steals your car, a GPS tracker or aftermarket recovery system can help law enforcement keep tabs on the location of your vehicle and recover it quickly, while also apprehending the thief.
While the greatest security involves implementing all four layers, the NICB recommends also taking into account where you most frequently travel and park, since some devices can be expensive to install and may not be worth the investment for those frequenting safer areas.
In Case of Theft
Though there are numerous ways to deter vehicle theft or decrease the likelihood that your vehicle will be stolen, criminals will always devise new methods to circumvent security to steal a vehicle. Theft is not 100% preventable, and in the case that your vehicle is stolen, NHTSA recommends the following three steps:
- Immediately file a stolen vehicle report with the police. Providing police with your vehicle’s license plate number; make, model, and color; and vehicle identification number (VIN) will help law enforcement recover your vehicle as soon as possible. Your insurance company will also need a copy of a police report or case number when you file a claim.
- Contact your insurance company and file a claim within 24 hours of the incident. Doing this as soon as possible will protect you in case your vehicle causes any harm or damage after it is stolen. Providing an accurate description of your vehicle, a list of personal belongings inside, and the location of any spare keys can also help with your claim.
- If you locate your vehicle before the police does, contact law enforcement and your insurance company to let them know you found it, especially in the case of mistaken theft.
If you’re driving your vehicle as part of your job, make sure you follow the procedures of reporting a theft as outlined in your company’s fleet policy. Fleet personnel may be required to handle reporting the incident to the police department and insurance company, and may need to work directly with police in tracking the vehicle — if it is equipped with a GPS tracking or telematics device.
Vehicle theft is avoidable. Making sure your vehicle isn’t a tempting target for thieves is a crucial way to protect your vehicle. By following the four-tiered approach to vehicle security, you can protect this valuable asset.