Auto Theft: Business is Booming

The pandemic has had wide-ranging effects on the economy, with some industries like restaurants and hospitality struggling greatly while others have actually seen improvements. Unfortunately, one sector that had a very big year was auto theft.

Vehicle theft has been trending downward in recent years, but the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports a surge of nearly 10% in 2020. In raw numbers, that’s some 873,000 vehicles stolen last year.

Reasons for the increase most obviously include the economic downturn associated with the pandemic. Many juvenile outreach programs suspended operations, and budget cutbacks in public safety and law enforcement no doubt were contributors as well.

The environment has been target-rich also, with many stuck at home and vehicles parked in the same locations for long periods of time.

Typically about 25% of the comprehensive premium on your automotive policy goes towards paying auto theft claims, so the general upward trend in theft might cause a rise in insurance rates whether you personally are a victim or not. But there are things you can do to protect yourself.

First, lock your doors and windows. Always. Don’t leave a running vehicle unattended for any reason, even if it’s covered in ice. Don’t store any spare keys in your vehicle, and always keep valuables out of sight. While not technically auto theft, online forums for local neighborhoods are always full of smash-and-grab stories, usually because someone left a purse or other valuables in plain sight.

Beyond those basics, your mission is to make your vehicle a less inviting target. If you don’t have a factory alarm system, consider having an aftermarket one installed. Make it obvious that your car is protected with a physical deterrent like a steering wheel lock or brake lock.

There’s a wide variety of available electronic immobilizing devices ranging from fuse cut-offs to ignition and fuel pump disablers. Any of these will make your vehicle a harder target for thieves.

Finally, consider that if the worst does happen anyway, the sooner you can recover a stolen vehicle, the less damage there’s likely to be. Consider installing a tracking device that sends a signal to the police or a monitoring service in the event your car is stolen.

Questions about vehicle theft or auto coverage? Contact Consolidated Insurance.