July is National Theft Protection Month, and we’re taking this opportunity to help you learn how to protect your vehicle from today’s thief. There are two main kinds of car thieves: joyriders and professionals. The joyrider rarely means to permanently separate you from your car; they’re typically just seeking a thrill. It is the professional car thieves you really need to watch out for, because they are looking for specific cars for resale or parts. By the time you realize your car is missing, it could be on its way to a chop shop, headed for shipment overseas or even being used in another crime.
Connected Cars Breed Connected Thieves
Professional thieves have kept up with evolving vehicle technology. Today’s “connected” criminals use advanced techniques to defeat vehicle security systems, cloning keys or building radio signal amplifiers that decode and magnify the signal from your key inside the house to your car in the driveway. In fact, there are now multiple devices with radio transmitters that will figure out a vehicle’s unique key fob and unlock its doors. In some cases, car thieves will actually break into a home to steal keys. And don’t even think about leaving your keys in the car—thieves know all the hiding spots way better than you do.
Professional auto thefts often involve a complex network of thieves, chop shops, mechanics and resellers all working together. Efficient and discreet, these chop shops—often run by organized crime syndicates—can dismantle an entire car in as little as an hour. Although they’re most commonly located in garages and junk yards, ambitious operations with dozens of vehicles have been found in more remote locations.
The True Cost of Auto Theft
The cost of auto theft goes way beyond your insurance deductible. From rental car expenses to continued loan payments during settlement, loss of down payment, loss of use, and rental car expenses, the costs can mount faster than you think. Worse still, when a criminal gains access to your car, there is potential for identity theft in addition to any valuables you might lose. Credit cards, billing statements and your insurance and registration cards are all valuable sources of information for thieves.
How to Protect Your Vehicle
Fortunately, there are a number of simple measures you can take to help protect your vehicle from opportunistic car thieves. These include:
- Don’t ever leave your keys in your car, especially when it’s running
- Never hide a spare key in or attached to the frame of your car
- Close all windows and lock all doors when you leave your vehicle
- Park in a well-lit area and, if possible, leave your car in a garage
- Never leave valuables in your car, especially if they contain personal information
- If you have a GPS navigation system, don’t give your home address an obvious label, such as “Home” as this can lead thieves right to your door
It’s important to protect yourself and your vehicle with a layered security approach. In addition to these common sense measures, choose an advanced vehicle security technology such as the LoJack® Stolen Vehicle Recovery System or LoJack® SureDrive™ to help protect your vehicle investment. To learn more about how LoJack can help protect your vehicle, visit our solution page here. Be sure to follow LoJack on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to discover additional tips and tricks throughout National Theft Protection Month.