Tips for Vehicle Theft Prevention Month

Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up. Summer is primetime for auto theft.

July is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.

July is nationally recognized as Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. Summer is the perfect time to remind motorists to never leave your vehicle unsecured. Vehicle theft is a risk year-round, but that risk increases significantly during the warmer months.

The Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program aims to inform individuals on how to stay protected from auto theft. This includes sharing the necessary tools and tips to prevent you from becoming a part of the next statistic.

Did you know? Nearly 40 percent of all auto theft incidents occur between the months of June and September. Don’t let the carefree summer days cause you to be careless with your automobile.

What is auto theft?

Auto theft is the illegal act of stealing a motor vehicle. Many individuals believe that auto theft only occurs in the movies. The numbers say otherwise. Last year, 9,947 offenses of motor vehicle theft were reported in Virginia.

Auto theft also includes stolen vehicle parts and accessories. If your car is stolen, there is a good chance it is heading straight to a chop shop or the black market. In 2017, more than $3 million vehicle parts and accessories were stolen. Only 2.5 percent of the vehicle parts and accessories were recovered. Thieves can make big money by stripping your vehicle of its parts. Whether it is your tailgate or your state inspection sticker, thieves will profit.

Why should I care about auto theft?

Auto theft affects us all. The costs aren’t exclusive to just the owners of stolen vehicles.

Last year, in the state of Virginia, more than $8 million was lost due to auto theft. When a vehicle is stolen, other costs are incurred. Insurance premiums are also affected when a claim is filed. With increased insurance claim totals you can expect increased premiums. Insurance companies raise their rates based on overall loss and risk.

What mistakes can I avoid this summer?

Simple habits that may seem harmless can really cost you. Leaving windows cracked or your car’s AC running while you run in the store is a huge mistake. As great as a cooled off car is, returning to a hot car is better than returning to no car.

Don’t assume your car is safe because it is parked outside of your home. Last year, 4,289 of the reported vehicle thefts occurred at the victim's residence; making it the top location for thieves to strike.

How can I make my car less attractive to thieves?

Luxury cars aren’t the only vehicles at risk. As attractive as expensive cars might be, older vehicles are an easier target due to the lack of advanced technology and safety features.

Some simple things you can do to protect yourself and your car are to:
  • Always take your keys with you
  • Never leave your possessions in plain sight
  • Always park in a well-lit, high-traffic area
Additionally, you can invest in VIN etching, ignition disablers, audible alarms, and locks on steering wheels, brakes, or tires. All of these deterrents will help prevent you from becoming the next victim.

Don’t let auto theft cloud your sunny days!

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