Lock it Up: Essential Steps to Prevent Vehicle Theft

Prevent Vehicle Theft

With the month of July already behind us, it’s hard to not become overwhelmed seeing the year seemingly zoom right by us. 

As with many months of the year, though, July held an intention that is worth pumping the brakes and taking note of what we are reminded to pay attention to. 

If you hadn’t heard, July was declared Vehicle Theft Prevention Month by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as they are partnered with National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

According to the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation regarding the driving force to help prevent vehicle theft: 

“Vehicle theft continues to be a significant concern in the U.S., costing vehicle owners more than $8 billion in 2022 alone. Shockingly, more than 1 million vehicles were stolen in the same year, reflecting a 25 percent increase in vehicle theft totals compared to previous years. Of all stolen motor vehicles, passenger cars historically accounted for more than 74 percent, with an estimated occurrence of one motor vehicle theft happening every 32 seconds.

With those statistics in mind, it’s clear why a whole month was set aside to prevent vehicle theft by reconnecting drivers and vehicle owners to the habits that can keep their vehicles safe, when known and adopted. 

Prevent Vehicle Theft: Why are Cars Stolen to Begin with?

Life is busy. We all know what it is like when our to-do lists get longer, our working hours fill up more of our days, and our time seems to move so much quicker. 

This is why there are so many noted benefits to having a vehicle– from experiencing the independence you have when you are on your own schedule, crossing off the much needed errands from your to-do list or the convenience of getting yourself from point A to point B without the added hassles of public transportation, to the crucial use of your vehicle in the case of an emergency.

With all that in mind, life can also be expensive sometimes- and this includes the acquisition and maintenance of a vehicle. 

In 2022 alone, the average annual cost of owning a car was $10,728

That can feel like a lot. 

Plainly put, vehicles are immensely valuable to our lives, but also, as with any investment, they cost money upfront to afford us wealth in the end– even if that wealth is access to needed personal transportation.

To some though, vehicles are more than an investment into our personal movements, they make money when taken from one place and disposed of in the next. 

There are a number of reasons car theft happens

The first though? The potential money that can be made when a stolen car is sold in totality on the black market, or, alternatively, taken to a “chop shop” where the vehicle is dismantled. In the latter case, individual parts are sold off, one by one. 

Beyond the car theft associated with hunting the perfect payout, some steal cars for the simple enjoyment of having their own transportation. 

These car thieves, or “joy riders”, aren’t running errands though. They often target luxury or high performance vehicles to enjoy (and often damage) the vehicle itself. 

Prevent Vehicle Theft

Prevent Vehicle Theft: Knowing What is Commonly Stolen from Cars

Whether the whole vehicle is stolen and sent to one of those “chop shops” or simply dismantled right there on the spot, there is a lot that is up for grabs on your vehicle in the eyes of a vehicle thief. 

The most common off-the-car stolen car parts are: 

  • – Tires and Wheels
  • – Tailgates 
  • – Batteries
  • – Catalytic Converters
  • – Airbags 
  • – Third Row Seats 

The most common out-of-the-car stolen items are: 

  • – Registration
  • – Garage Door Openers
  • – Electronics
  • – Items with Personal Information 

It’s clear to see, not only can car theft be inconvenient in the disposal of a needed resource, but certain stolen items– like the personal information, keys or garage door openers, vehicle registration– can lead to greater headaches down the line. 

The year to year change in vehicle thefts between 2020 and 2021 places Oregon nationally at #5. Of the rest of the top 10 states with the greatest change in vehicle thefts, Ashland Insurance serves 5 of those states

You can imagine why its important to share the needed information to help prevent vehicle theft to all, but to also share it directly with those we serve. 

So then, what can you do to prevent vehicle theft?

Prevent Vehicle Theft: What Can You Do?

The steps to take to prevent vehicle theft can seem so obvious. Though these suggested habits may feel like second nature, it is always good to check back in and make sure you are still putting the safety measures in action. Even further, become aware of the available tools that can help fortify those preventative steps and add to the protection you can afford yourself. 

Some helpful habits to prevent vehicle theft: 

  • – Parking in well-lit, visible areas or garages if available
  • – Keep keys safe
  • – Tuck your valuables away– dont leave them in plain sight, lock them away if you can! Alternatively, do not leave valuables in your car at all.
  • – Keep digital copies of any documentation with personal information, such as registration

Some tools that can help prevent vehicle theft: 

  • – Alarm System
  • – Steering Wheel Lock or Gear Shift Lock
  • – Locking Center Console
  • – GPS 
  • – Lock for commonly stolen items (wheel locks, tailgate locks, security cables for batteries, etc)
  • – Catalytic Converter specific security devices 

Doing what you can to prevent vehicle theft starts with the awareness around the present, (and in certain areas, rising) risk.

Prevent Vehicle Theft

Prevent Vehicle Theft: Knowing What To Do if Your Car is Stolen

You’ve done all you can to maintain safe and security minded habits around your vehicle. Sometimes, though, the situation you work hard to prevent may still happen. 

What do you do? 

The clear first step in the case of car theft is to call the police and report the theft.There is valuable information you will need to provide, such as make, model, and license plate number as well as any other identifying characteristics. Keep these notes with the digital copy of your registration. Even if you think you have it all memorized, in high stress moments, we can forget even what we have always known

Once a report is issued, the police will begin their investigation and work to track your car down. 

After the police are contacted, your next step is to contact your auto insurance provider. Most insurance policies cover theft, but there is still some additional (and helpful!) information you will need to provide. This includes the police police report number and any evidentiary material. Once the necessary information is acquired, your insurance provider can begin processing your claim. 

In the end, to take the steps to prevent vehicle theft is taking the steps to prevent the frustration, the violation, the headache, and the financial loss that comes with the theft. 

July was set aside to be the Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, but remember the awareness and steps needed go beyond just one month.