One vehicle is stolen every 19 seconds in the United States.
Stolen cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles cause economic hardship for victims, increase everyone's insurance premiums, and may be used to commit other, violent crimes.
A few common sense steps can help you avoid being a victim of the nation's fastest growing property crime..
EVERY DAY CARS DISAPPEAR FROM:
- Parking lots/garages
- Mass transit lots
- Car dealerships
Remember - vehicle theft can happen anyplace, anytime. Lock it if you don't want to lose it.
TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT AUTO THEFT
- NEVER leave your car running.
- NEVER leave your keys in the car or ignition.
- ALWAYS roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it's in front of your home.
- NEVER leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk or at least out of sight.
- ALWAYS park in busy, well-lighted areas.
- ALWAYS leave just the ignition key with the attendant, if you park in a commercial garage or lot. Make sure no identifying information is attached. Do the same when you take your car in for repairs.
- Carry your registration and insurance card with you. Don'tleave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
- Copy your tage number and vehicle identification number (VIN) on a card and keep them with your driver's license. If your vehicle is stolen, the police need this information.
KEEP THIEVES AWAY - USE DETERRENTS
- Etch your vehicle identification number (VIN) on your vehicles windows, doors, fenders, and the trunk lid. Auto theft investigators believe this deters professional thieves, who have to either remove or replace etched parts before selling the car.
- Install a mechanical device that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees. Commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars, these devices must be installed property - and used - to be effective.
- Look into CAT (Combined Auto Theft) and HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) partnership programs where citizens voluntarily register their cars with the police, and allow the police to stop the car during certain hours when they normally would not be driving. All participants display decals in a designated area on their vehicles.
- Investigate security systems if you live in a high-theft area or drive a theft-prone automobile.
Spending money on anti-theft devices doesn't help if drivers don't practice the basics - locking the car and taking the keys - and using the anti-theft devices they bought.
Carjacking - stealing a car by force - has captured headlines across the country. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim, and preventive actions can reduce the risk even more.
- If the carjacker has a weapon, give up your car with no questions asked. Your life is worth more than a car.
- Keep your car doors locked and windows closed at all times.
- Be especially alert at gas stations, shopping malls, convenience and grocery stores, and intersections - all are likely spots for carjackers.
- Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways, stores and people.
- Approach your car with the key in your hand. Look around and inside the car before getting in.
TAKE A STAND
- Report a stolen vehicle to law enforcement immediately, and report abandoned cars to the local agency that handles their removal.
- Organize an auto theft awareness/prevention event. Partner with law enforcement agencies, civic organizations, and businesses. Try a car wash, display at a shopping mall, or organize a demonstration that shows how a car can be "chopped" into thousands of dollars worth of parts in minutes.
- If joyriding is a problem in your community, work to improve recreational and job opportunities for young people.
- Reach out to victims of auto theft by offering advice on dealing with insurance claims and providing prevention information.
- Ask insurance companies and state motor vehicle agencies to include carjacking and other vehicle theft prevention information in all mailings.
- Put auto theft prevention information in driver education classes and the waiting rooms of dealer service departments, rental car agencies, and auto repair shops.
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