There is no question about it — auto, truck, or RV thefts remain a significant challenge for anyone who owns a vehicle or is responsible for such a fleet. Vehicle theft is one of the worst things that can happen to a car owner. For car renters and fleet managers, it can trigger a cascading series of paperwork nightmares, insurance increases, and financial loss. Fortunately, you can better protect your equipment by better understanding the current state of car theft.
The Latest on Automobile Theft
Car thefts remain a significant issue across the country. One only has to look at recent reports to see the proof. For example, New Orleans reported 404 cars stolen in the first 17 days of 2023 – a massive increase when one considers only 4,400 cars were stolen in all of 2022. Other states are seeing similar results.
Car thefts in Pennsylvania have worsened yearly since 2018, and that trend accelerated in 2022. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s experience matches what is happening across the nation. According to a study from Vivint, car thefts have risen yearly since 2010. The study found 406,953 cars were stolen in 2020, compared to 162,624 cars in 2010. This information means that car thefts have more than doubled throughout the nation. The same study found that the costs of stolen vehicles also rose, with the average cost increasing to $16,377 in 2020, more than double what it was in 2010.
The good news is that not all states saw an increase in theft during this period. States like Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, and Vermont saw significant decreases. Unfortunately, these states are the exception, not the rule.
It’s Not Just Cars: Parts Are Popular Targets for Thieves
As far too many people know, certain car parts are also extremely popular targets for thieves. These parts can be extremely expensive and may not even be covered by insurance, depending on your type of insurance and the deductible cost.
The catalytic converter is one of the most popular targets for car part theft. Studies found that catalytic converter theft increased by over 1,215% in the past two years. This massive spike has come because these converters use valuable metals that can be highly lucrative when stolen and resold by car thieves. As a result, many states and the federal government have begun designing specific laws to deter such thefts.
It’s not only catalytic converters that are being stolen, however. Other popular car parts stolen include entertainment systems, airbags, wheels, hubcaps, and car emblems.
Finally, it’s worth considering that this doesn’t just happen with cars or trucks, as thieves also steal RVs. One survey found that RVs were the 4th most common vehicle to be stolen, making up 6% of car thefts. To be clear, a car is far more likely to be stolen, or have a part stolen, than an RV. However, the overall trend line still isn’t moving in a positive direction.
The Rise of Technological Solutions and Preventative Behavior
Here’s the good news: As thieves get smarter, the technological tools available to car owners, RV owners, and fleet managers become more effective. Indeed, many fleet managers have found a real benefit from various tools, including:
- Dashcams can capture footage of thieves and potentially frighten someone from stealing your car.
- GPS tracking can be vital for recovering your car if it is stolen.
- Integrated technological solutions that work together seamlessly to track your car find it if it is stolen, and automatically alert fleet managers or authorities if it is being used outside accepted parameters or locations.
- Integrated car lock systems that work on your phone. Some apps can alert you if your car is unlocked, has been broken into, or is moving. This enables you to quickly and easily track down a stolen vehicle.
- A variety of steering wheel or tire locks can be effective if you are leaving your car in a place where you are concerned about theft or if you will be away from it for a long time.
- Integrated ignition prevention systems allow you to remotely prevent your vehicle’s engine from starting if you realize it’s fallen prey to thieves.
Finally, car owners and fleet managers can alter their behaviors to prevent theft or vandalism. These solutions require no additional technological tools and rely on only changing behavior and ensuring drivers pay better attention to their surroundings.
Potential solutions include:
- Parking only in well-lit or highly visible areas. Cars are far less likely to be stolen or broken into if a potential thief believes their behavior is being actively monitored.
- Always lock doors, close windows, and ensure that you don’t leave any valuables out in a visible way. Valuables you should hide include garage openers, toll-booth passes, or even loose change.
- Ensure you never leave a key — including a remote key — in the vehicle. This is the cause of the lion’s share of vehicle thefts and a simple behavior change can prevent a thief from immediately (and easily) driving away with your car.
- Never leave your car running, even in your driveway or in a parking lot. Doing so essentially creates an open invitation for thieves.
You should certainly practice this behavior with your own car. However, many fleet managers have found that they can benefit from communicating this information to people who rent their vehicles or even having them sign paperwork stating they will adhere to best practices to prevent car thefts. Doing so can help your renters or employees know they are responsible for following best practices in protecting your asset.
As you can see, technological solutions and slight changes to driver behavior can make a major difference in any theft deterrence effort. Are you a fleet manager interested in increasing your investment in technological solutions? Contact Zubie today, and let us provide you with a demo, quote, and free trial.