Stolen Car Capitals of America
If you live in one of these states, take some extra precautions
If you drive in California, you have more to worry about than freeway traffic. You also have to worry, after you’ve parked, about whether your car will still be there when you get back. That’s because California drivers have a greater risk of having their car stolen than residents of any other state, according to a top 10 list from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Florida lands in the second spot, followed by Texas, New York, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada. (Photo: NHTSA)
Of course, even if you don’t live in one of these states, that doesn’t mean you can breathe easy. We’re all at risk of having our car stolen, the NHTSA says.
In 2013, 700,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States — that’s one every 45 seconds, the NHTSA says. Nearly 45 percent of stolen cars are never recovered.
Almost half of thefts happen as a result of what the NHTSA calls “driver error” — dumb moves like leaving the car unlocked.
Remember these basics:
- Take your key with you when you park. Don’t leave it the car.
- Close all windows (don’t leave them open even a crack) and lock all doors.
- Park in well-lit areas or in a garage, if possible.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car, but if you do, move them out of sight.
- Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.
Also, the NHTSA says, consider investing in an anti-theft system if your car doesn’t already have one. There are three kinds:
- Audible or visible devices. Think horn alarms and steering wheel locks.
- Immobilizing-type devices. Think kill switches [IF CORRECT]. According to the NHTSA, these “prevent thieves from bypassing your vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.”
- Vehicle recovery systems. Think LoJack and others. These allow law enforcement to track or find a stolen vehicle — sometimes with the thief still in it.
If you’re really serious about not getting your car stolen, Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, has more tips for you:
- If you can, park with the front of your car facing an obstacle.
- Consider VIN etching. This chemically etches the Vehicle Identification Number or registration number on the windows of your vehicle. "Chop shops" thrive on vehicles that have easily removable VINs or no etching at all. New York City even provides vehicle etching for residents.
- If you leave the vehicle for a longer period, take off the fuses, or disconnect the power supply (talk to your mechanic first).
- Never leave your keys with parking lot or car wash employees.
- Don’t leave your registration (or heaven forbid the title) in the car. Doing so makes it easier for a thief to sell the car on the black market.
Interpol notes you should take precautions even when your car is parked in your own garage.
The NHTSA has a list of the top 10 vehicles thieves target most. Click here to see if your car makes the list.
Like this article? Share it with friends by clicking the Facebook or Twitter button below. And don't forget to visit our Facebook page!