How Do I Protect My Car From Vehicle Theft?

Multiple states are reporting increased car theft for 2022. On a recent trip to downtown San Francisco, I noticed many vehicles parked on the street with the vehicle lift gate left wide open. I asked a local resident to explain. He reported that people leave the trunk open, so the criminal can have a look around and realize there is nothing to steal.

Top 10 items most likely to be stolen from cars and trucks (not in order):

  • Music Players such as the car stereo, iPod’s, etc.
  • Cell phones, hand held gaming devices
  • Portable GPS systems
  • Garage door opener, keys
  • Car registration
  • Rims and tires
  • Third row seats
  • Truck tailgate
  • Licence plate
  • Catalytic Converters

*Keep in mind your address is on the car registration, if the garage door opener or house keys are also missing, this is cause for serious concern.

Unfortunately, not all vehicle theft crimes are stolen items from inside the car. You may walk outside and find your entire vehicle missing. Is it possible to recover the stolen car or truck? According to data from 2020 1 in 5 stolen vehicles are recovered but 30% are damaged. Scottsdale auto body shops have seen recovered vehicles in need of dent repair, bumper or fender replacement, and other collision repair. Catalytic converters also seem to be stolen frequently. Collision repair or auto body parts replacement is further complicated due to supply chain issues, not to mention the auto insurance claim process.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau data from 2020 reports full size trucks from Chevy and Ford were the most stolen vehicles and the Honda Accord and Honda Civic were next on the list to be stolen.

As of April 2022, law enforcement agencies report vehicle thefts are up 88 percent in Washington and 31% in New Jersey.

What is the most common type of car theft? 

Opportunistic theft is the most common car theft and the most preventable. This crime involves stealing a parked or running car that has been left unattended, but with the keys in sight or easy to access.

What can you do to lessen the chances of vehicle theft or increase chances of recovery?

  • Do not leave anything in your car, not even an empty water bottle. You do not want to signal the criminal that you keep things in your car.
  • Park in a well-lit area, preferably under a light.
  • Don’t leave your keys in the ignition (Seems obvious, but happens).
  • Use a warning device.
  • Install an immobilizing device and install a tracking device.

What to do when your vehicle is broken into or vandalized?

  • Before you clean up broken glass, etc, photograph the vehicle and the damage. Make sure to take good photos of auto body dents and paint scratches. The police and/or insurance may need to see these photos.
  • Make a list of stolen items.
  • File a police report. Many times several cars are broken into in the same area. This may help law enforcement investigate a broader crime.

Can I make an auto insurance claim?

If you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, you can make a claim, but you will be responsible for your deductible. Depending on the amount of your deductible, you may choose to pay for the auto body repair out of pocket.

Will auto insurance cover the items stolen from my vehicle?

Most auto insurance policies do not cover the belongings in your car, however, your homeowners or renters insurance policy may have coverage.

What will the insurance company ask me?

  • They may ask for the vehicle’s Certificate of Title
  • Location of car keys before/after the theft
  • Vehicle description including mileage, options, service records, and upgrades such as tires, rims, stereo, etc.
  • List of personal property in the vehicle
  • Finance or leasing company contact info and the account number (if necessary)

What should I do if my vehicle is recovered?

Notify your insurance company immediately once you are made aware of your vehicle’s recovery. There may be glass damage and collision repair such as dents and scratches to address.

What if my vehicle is not recovered?

If your vehicle is not recovered, you will probably need to shop for a new vehicle. Some insurance companies and even manufacturer brands have a program or car buying service.

The best way to prevent this crime or repeating of this crime is to safeguard your vehicle as much as possible. Even in beautiful north Scottsdale, Airpark Collision Center has seen theft recovery vehicles. Most times the insurance company will pay for the auto body damage repair if the vehicle’s value exceeds the cost of collision repair. It is not uncommon to see dents, scratches, bumper or fender damage if it was taken to commit another crime or even a joyride. Sometimes, the thieves are after certain parts of the vehicle such as rims, tires or a catalytic converter. A call to the police, insurance company and reputable Scottsdale auto body repair shop is the best way to start dealing with vehicle theft.

For additional information about vehicle theft, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle theft page.

Airpark Collision Center opened in 2006 and has earned a reputation for quality auto body repair. We are a full service Scottsdale collision repair facility and can help with everything from minor door dings to severe collision damage. Please stop in or click here for a free estimate.

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.

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