California Car Thefts Increase in 2012
On June 26, 2013 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual Hot Spots vehicle theft report and California tops the chart. The NICB data is in line with preliminary FBI vehicle theft data for 2012 which appears to end an eight-year downward trend in vehicle theft. The final numbers will be published by the FBI in the fall, but preliminary 2012 FBI figures estimate a 1.3 percent increase in 2012 thefts from the previous year. Not surprisingly, eight of the top 10 areas are in California with the remaining two from the state of Washington.
Top 10 Hot Spots 2012
The NICB’s Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can—and often does—have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population to absorb it.
What this means for California drivers:
After a $12.2 million police force budget cut in 2011, the increase in auto theft is likely to continue through 2013 and beyond. With California’s police force in turmoil and the end of an eight-year downward auto theft trend, I am predicting within the next year or two there will be a gradual increase in insurance rates for California drivers.
If insurance claims continue to increase, naturally insurance carriers will adjust their rates to maintain a profit. Unfortunately, this means the consumers end up bearing the burden. While I am predicting that auto theft will continue to rise, insurance companies, law enforcement, and consumers are all responsible in the joint effort to reduce auto thefts.
How to reduce auto theft:
Common Sense — The common sense approach to protection is the easiest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. You should always:
- Remove your keys from the ignition
- Lock your doors /close your windows
- Park in a well-lit area
Warning Device — The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular devices include:
- Audible alarms
- Steering column collars
- Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
- Brake locks
- Wheel locks
- Theft deterrent decals
- Identification markers in or on vehicle
- VIN etching
- Micro dot marking
Immobilizing Device — The third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Some examples are:
- Smart keys
- Fuse cut-offs
- Kill switches
- Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers
- Wireless ignition authentication
Tracking Device — The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
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