July 4th is not only America’s birthday. It is also the start of the two months each year with the highest rates of auto theft in the U.S. And even though vehicle theft rates have dropped somewhat in recent years, thieves are finding new ways around security advancements in key technology. Plus car owners are unwittingly helping them. Consider the results of a study conducted for the National Insurance Crime Bureau:
- 79% ALWAYS lock their vehicle and 93% NEVER leave spare keys in their vehicle…BUT 33% also admit they have left their car while it was running to run into a store, etc. — making it a prime target for theft.
- 47% don’t always park in a well-lit area.
- 40% don’t hide their valuables. In fact, nearly half leave mail in their car, 25% have left a purse or wallet, and almost 33% have left a bank statement. All of these items put them at risk of identity theft.
So don’t aid and abet the criminals. Here are six common sense steps that can help you hold onto your wheels!
Lock it or risk losing it: You probably lock your car when you’re heading into the mall or supermarket, knowing you’ll be gone for a while. But do you lock it when you run into the convenience store, the cleaner, or the post office? Do you roll up the windows and close the sunroof? Just remember: “I’ll only be a minute” is less time than the thief needs to drive off with your car. LOCK IT EVERY TIME!
Don’t leave keys in or “on” your vehicle: Do you ever leave your keys in the car when it’s in the driveway or in your garage – just to run into the house for something, or because “you’re home”? Your best bet is to pull your key out of the ignition EVERY TIME you get out of the vehicle. (Besides the risk of theft, kids could get in the car and keys in the ignition would make it a very unsafe playground.) And for anyone who hides that key box under the fender: just remember that thieves know people do that. Enough said!
Hide the valuables: How many times have you walked by a car or truck with smart phones, GPS devices, laptop bags right out in the open? A roving thief might not steal your car, but wouldn’t think twice about a smash-and-grab of your valuables. Put them in the trunk or glove compartment…or take them with you!
Invest in security: Most new cars come with built-in alarm systems, but if yours didn’t, don’t worry – they are affordable and easily installed. There are also a number of tracking devices that can help police find your vehicle if it’s stolen – like LoJack or the vehicle “concierge” systems like OnStar. And these security investments may also lower your insurance rate!
Always have a bright idea about parking: Car thieves like a little privacy! Think about that when you decide to park your car or truck in that far corner of the parking lot where all the lights are broken. And if you say, “these are the only empty parking spaces” there’s probably a reason: smart drivers who want to keep their vehicles kept looking. You should too.
Don’t underestimate a thief’s interest in your wheels. The F-250 pick up and the Dodge Charger may have just been named the most-stolen vehicles in the U.S., but don’t forget that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry have been at the top of that list for years. So no matter what car or truck you drive, take sensible precautions that will make it less attractive to would-be thieves.
Last safety tip: Make sure you have the right insurance to protect your vehicle. Any of the six Cushman Insurance Group offices throughout eastern Massachusetts will be happy to give you a no-obligation quote. (Click here for a QUICK QUOTE)
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