In 2015, nearly three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States. Vehicle thefts happen once about every 45 seconds in America. Vehicle thefts are at their height during the summer and a particular problem in Baltimore City. Vehicle theft costs vehicle owners $5 billion annually.
Although July, declared by the National Highway Transportation Administration, to be national “Vehicle Theft Prevention Month” has come and gone. NHTSA’s tips on preventing vehicle theft are still useful.
Don’t Make It Easy for Your Car to Be Stolen
NHTSA says nearly half of all vehicle theft occurs because drivers leave their keys in the car. So, please remember to take your keys with you and don’t leave then in your car or on your car.
Doublecheck to make sure that you have closed all windows. It’s easy to forget the back windows that you “cracked a little bit open” for ventilation on a hot day.
Make sure that the doors are locked. Give car doors “a tug” after you exit the car to make sure the vehicle is locked.
Park in a well-lit area.
Don’t leave valuables in your car; but, if you do, cover the objects to make sure they can’t be seen.
Don’t leave the motor running while you run into the store or gas station for just a “thing or two.” This provides a quick opportunity for your car to be stolen.
Keep your vehicle in a garage, if possible.
There are several different types of antitheft systems – audible, visual and immobilizing – aimed at making vehicles more difficult to steal.
Horn alarms prevent theft by making a loud noise when an unauthorized attempt to steal your car or enter your vehicle occurs.
Visible antitheft systems, which include steering-wheel locks, theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights and etching, create a visual threat or warning.
Etching is often recommended by the police and car insurance companies, VIN (vehicle identification number) etching marks your vehicle identification number, which is a serial number unique to your vehicle, onto the windshield, windows and other parts of your car. Since “chop shops” can only resell untraceable parts and vehicles, VIN etching makes etched cars unattractive to thieves. VIN etching isn’t expensive and, in some states, you can qualify for a discount on your auto insurance if your VIN is etched in key places.
Immobilizing devices prevent thieves from “hot-wiring” the car. Some disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine when an attempt to steal the car though bypassing the ignition system occurs. Smart keys, often standard in many newer, pricier vehicles, prevent cars from being started unless the correct key is present.
There are also devices designed to make vehicles easier to trace and recover. Vehicle recovery systems often use a GPS transmitter to recover stolen vehicles.
Many of Baltimore’s citizens have reported finding their vehicles stolen or ransacked, even though they are sure they locked the car. Some Baltimore residents swear by the use of a “Farraday cage,” a metal box or metal-lined bag that blocks radio signals. The Charm City residents say they leave their car keys in the Farraday cage when they are not using the car. The theory is that thieves have access to a device that can amplify the radio signals produced by the keys used in cars that have keyless entry. Baltimore residents, say that, either by purchasing a small bag specifically made for preventing such car thefts or by putting their car keys in a metal container, thieves are prevented from using this method to gain access to Baltimore’s vehicles.
Contacting the police or your insurance company
If your vehicle has been stolen, contact the police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You’ll need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may also be asked to provide the license plate number; make, model and color of your vehicle; and VIN and any identifying characteristics.
Contact your insurance company within 24 hours of the discovery of your vehicle’s theft to file a claim.
These tips are provided to prevent your car from becoming an auto theft statistic. For a personal injury or criminal defense matter, you can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, at the law office at 410.244.5068 or through our website for a free consultation.