Without question we all carry health and life insurance to protect our families, and many of us have house alarms to protect our homes, but as consumers do we factor into consideration which automobile models are targets for theft when we are shopping for a new car? The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its Hot Wheels 2008 auto theft report for vehicles stolen in 2007, and similar to previous years, thieves preferred to steal older-model vehicles. Never mind if the vehicle might seem like an outdated model to you, in the eyes of a professional thief they see dollar signs and can sell the seats, sound system, airbags and other parts individually for cash on the black market.
Today, newer shiny expensive vehicles are simply targets for break-ins, more commonly known as ‘smash and grabs’. Stereos, speaker systems, and radar detectors used to be quick money for desperate individuals looking to cash in at pawn shops, but today portable electronics like GPS systems and iPods with accessories left in view are a hot commodity. The NICB’s list for the top 10 stolen vehicles in 2007 are:
Many stolen vehicles recovered have been confiscated on route to Mexico. As a result, the states of California, Arizona and New Mexico report the highest auto theft rates. While location might not be a factor for you, why not take some countermeasures that could help prevent your vehicle from being stolen. Aside from alarms, there are manually placed steering column locks, even immobilizing devices like kill switches or fuel cut offs can be placed on cars to deter those in the market for your older vehicle. Insurance companies offer discounts for automobiles with alarm or other types of audible warning devices.
Even if you are the victim of a “smash and grab”, save yourself the hassle of filing a claim and taking time off of work to get a window replaced along with other valuables by taking some basic precautions. Additionally, be wise about where you park your car. Try to see through a thief’s eyes when parking at hotel lots, shopping mall garages or even long term airport terminal lots - is your vehicle near a light or off in the far corner away from passerby vehicles and higher traffic areas? Although it’s common sense, always lock your doors and do not leave anything of value, including any identifying information like mail or magazines that showcase your name and address in plain sight. As of mom, I always make sure to leave the kids toys, diapers and kiddie c.d.’s in plain sight - what kind of treasure would be inside the family car with cheerios and goldfish scattered on the floor?by Staff Writer