July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.
As you take to the road this summer, avoid returning to your parking spot and discovering your vehicle is gone. Travelers are especially at risk because they often aren’t familiar with their surroundings, may be distracted and don’t secure their car adequately or unintentionally make the vehicle a target because it’s packed with their belongings.
According to the Traffic Safety Marketing website, in 2019, 721,885 motor vehicles in the United States were stolen. Of those, 56.1 percent were recovered. Of all vehicles stolen, 74.5 percent were passenger vehicles.
What can you do to prevent auto theft? While there are many commercially available devices out today that claim to prevent theft, such as steering wheel and brake pedal locks, it really boils down to the basics:
- Choose your parking spot wisely
2. Park in well-lit areas or areas with a lot of foot traffic.
3. If you don’t know the area, consider a parking garage.
4. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Nothing of value should be in view to anyone looking into your vehicle. If you must leave items in your car, stop somewhere before you part and move them into the locked trunk.
5. Lock the automobile, and make sure windows are up.
6. Never leave keys in the car.
7. Never leave your vehicle running while not attended.
8. Visual cues that might deter a thief can be effective — even if they are just for show. Things like a steering wheel lock or a blinking alarm system light will inspire thieves to move on to the next vehicle, even if you don’t have the alarm activated.
9. If you are renting a car, consider renting something modest. Do not leave your rental contract in the car, as this document has just about all the information you will need if the car is stolen
Simply put, don’t make your vehicle an easy target for a potential thief!
If your car is stolen, contact the police immediately. Be ready to provide the following information:
- The year, make, model and color of the car
- License plate number
- Vehicle Identification Number (also called the “VIN”)
You’ll also want to notify your insurance company within 24 hours.