One vehicle is stolen every 20 seconds in the United States. Stolen
cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles cost victims time and money
- and increase everyone's insurance premiums. They're also often
used to commit other crimes.
The Basic Prevention Policy
- Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when
you're away from it, even for "just a minute".
- Always roll up the windows and lock the car, even if it's in
front of your home.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked.
Put them in the trunk or at least out of sight. Buy radios, tape
and CD players that can be removed and locked in the trunk.
- Park in busy, well-lighted areas.
- Carry the registration and insurance card with you. Don't leave
personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
- When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition
key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached.
Do the same when you take your car for repairs.
Add Extra Protection
- Each the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the windows,
doors, fenders, and trunk lid. This helps discourage professional
thieves who have to either remove or replace etched parts before
selling the car. Copy the VIN and your tag number on a card and
keep it in a safe place. If your vehicle is stolen, the police
need this information.
- Install a mechanical locking device - commonly called clubs,
collars, or j-bars - that locks to the steering wheel, column,
or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few
- Investigate security systems if you live in a high-theft area
or drive an automobile that's an attractive target for thieves.
You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
- Look into CAT (Combat Auto Theft) and HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft)
partnership programs where individuals voluntarily register their cars
with the police, and allow the police to stop by during certain hours
when they normally would not be driving (such as midnight to 5a.m.).
All participants display decals in a designated area on their vehicles.
What About Carjacking?
Carjacking - stealing a car by force - has captured headlines in
the last few years. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking
victim are very slim and preventative actions can reduce the risk
- Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside
before getting in.
- When driving, keep your car doors locked and windows rolled
up at all times.
- Be especially alert at intersections, gas stations, ATMs, shopping
malls, convenience and grocery stores - all are windows of opportunity
- Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways,
stores, and people.
- If the carjacker has a weapon, give up the car with no questions
asked. Your life is worth more than a car.
Beware of the "Bump and Rob"
It works like this. A car, usually with a driver and at least one
passenger, rear-ends or "bumps" you in traffic. You get
out to check the damage. The driver or one of the passengers jumps
in your car and drives off.
If you're bumped by another car, look around before you get out.
Make sure there are other cars around, check out the car that's
rear-ended you and who's in it. If the situation makes you uneasy,
stay in the car and insist on moving to a police station or busy,
well-lighted area to exchange information.
Be on the Lookout
- If your car's stolen, report it to the police immediately.
Also, report abandoned cars to the local agency that handles their
- When buying a used car from an individual or a dealer, make
sure you have the proper titles, that the VIN number is intact,
and the "federal sticker" is on the inside of the driver's
door. That sticker should match the VIN.
- Suggest that any dealer, rental car agency, or auto repair shop
you use offer auto theft prevention information in the waiting
- If joy riding is a problem in your community, work to improve
recreational programs and job opportunities for young people.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council
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