How To Prevent Auto Theft

By: Robert Siciliano | November 19, 2015 (Edited July 7, 2017)

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Though leaving your car's engine running and the door unlocked-with nobody in sight-is sure to attract a car thief who happens to be nearby, thieves actually do prefer particular models of cars, rather than always pouncing on a great opportunity to steal the first unlocked car they come upon.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some of the vehicles that were the most preferred by thieves in 2012:

  • Mazda 6
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Chrysler 300
  • Chevy Impala
  • Mitsubishi Galant
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse
  • Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

In the U.S., a vehicle is stolen every 45 seconds, says the NHTSA, though the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports says it's 28.8 seconds. So even though your car isn't on the above list, don't count it out, even if it's an old beater. The thief isn't always a slick professional looking for a big score. The villain could be a sociopath without transportation.

Among other reasons, about half of auto thefts are the result of driver error, says the NHTSA. Here are some more intriguing facts from the NHTSA and UCR:

  • July and August are the top two months for auto theft.
  • The top five states for auto theft are California, Florida, Texas, New York, Georgia and Illinois.
  • Stealing a car for transportation is often not the reason for the crime. Thieves want interior things to sell on the black market, like engines, transmissions and even airbags.
  • A car may also be stolen for the visible goods inside like electronic devices.
  • Over 33 percent of thefts occur near the owner's home.
  • One-fifth occurs in parking lots.

How can you prevent auto theft?

  • Duhhh, don't leave your vehicle unlocked-even while you "run into the store for just a minute."
  • Don't leave your keys in it...ever!!
  • Another duhhh: Don't leave it running without you in the seat.
  • If you hide a spare key under the car in a really good place, what makes you think that a professional thief wouldn't think to look there?
  • A skilled thief could quietly break into an unattended car even if the window is open a crack. Stop this practice no matter how hot the day is.
  • Your vehicle should have an alarm system.
  • A visible anti-theft device will deter crime.
  • Use a vehicle immobilizer system to prevent a thief from hotwiring (bypassing the ignition) your vehicle.
  • Keep valuables hidden.
  • Never park by a van or pickup truck which can shield a crime.
  • Always park in well-lit areas.
  • If you have Onstar or a compatible GPS locater, use it!!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

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