Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

The gut-wrenching feeling of realizing your vehicle is not in the spot you left it is unfortunately a common experience because a vehicle is stolen every 43.8 seconds in the United States. Anyone can become a target and thieves are always looking for a window of opportunity. Don’t give it to them. Being aware of the external and internal threats helps prevent vehicle theft.

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

External tips

  • Lock your vehicle – It is simple, effective and is the first step in auto theft prevention.
    • Activate security systems – It’s one more deterrent at your disposal.
    • Use a visible or audible device that shows thieves a vehicle is protected at all times.
  • Part Theft ‐ Often times it’s not just our vehicle thieves are after. The following items are all parts that thieves may target on your vehicle. Visit
    • Batteries ‐ Car batteries can be an easy target for thieves
    • Wheels ‐ Made to be interchangeable, and often expensive, wheels (tire and rim) are easy targets.
    • Tailgates ‐ This easy to remove part often times has no identifying numbers to associate it as belonging to any specific vehicle.

Leaving vehicle doors and windows open or unlocked makes it easy for thieves to help themselves to your vehicle or belongings. To prevent theft, always close and lock doors when exiting the vehicle.

Internal Tips

Prevent theft – Deter vehicle theft by using a steering wheel or brake pedal lock. Adding this additional layer of protection can make a difference between a thief choosing your vehicle or finding an easier target.

  • Protect your remote starters, key fobs, and keys ‐ These items should never be left in a vehicle.
  • Never leave a vehicle running – a car can be stolen in seconds
    • Install an immobilizing device such as starter, ignition, or fuel disabler – every second you add to a thief trying to start your car will help.
    • Equip your vehicle with a GPS tracking device – help the authorities help you by giving them a way to track your vehicle. *Please do not attempt to track your own vehicle as vehicle thieves are dangerous.
  • Do not leave your vehicle title or important documents in the vehicle – thieves may attempt to steal your identity and fraudulently assume ownership of your vehicle. #StopTheFraud
  • Some thieves are not always after your vehicle but rather what you have left in your vehicle. The following items should be removed from your vehicle or concealed out of sight:
    • Medication
    • Bags, purses, and backpacks
    • Electronics
  • Vehicles should never be considered adequate storage for weapons. Weapons should never be stored in a vehicle and should always be removed when the vehicle is unoccupied.
Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips
Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI)

The world’s leader in Vehicle Crime Training.

Our most effective weapon to combat the crime of auto theft is cooperation. IAATI has actively pursued this by providing its members with an unsurpassed array of experience, training, and resources in areas such as technical developments, trends, intelligence information, and investigative assistance.

Catalytic converters – Why they’re stolen and what a consumer can do

What is a catalytic converter? Catalytic converters are emissions control devices located under your vehicle that restrict carbon monoxide from coming out of the tailpipe. The converter contains three valuable metals, including platinum, rhodium and palladium.

What’s the problem? Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in many countries. For example: State Farm released 2021 claims data which shows a 1,171% increase in the U.S. Depending on the size, thieves can sell catalytic converters for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Prevent theft: To reduce the risk, consider parking inside a garage or well‐lit area. If you must park your vehicle outside, consider having your catalytic converter etched with the VIN number or law enforcement searchable Part Identification Number (PIN).

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

Relay attacks – What they are and what you can do

What is a relay attack? Newer model vehicles with keyless entry and ignition technology can fall prey to relay attacks. Relay attacks are when perpetrators tap into the key fob signal or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), allowing them to unlock and drive off with your vehicle.

What’s the problem? Relay attacks can happen in mere minutes and are often conducted by organized crime; thieves often work in pairs to walk around neighborhoods and find vulnerable vehicles.

Prevent theft: The best protection against relay attacks is layered vehicle protection. Consider using a steering wheel or brake lock that requires a physical key to unlock. Understand that RFID technology can be interrupted by distance between the key fob and vehicle or by use of a signal blocking RFID wallet or pouch called a faraday bag.

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

Puffer / Jump‐in ‐ Vehicles Left Running ‐ Is your car yelling “Take me!”?

What is a Puffer / Jump‐in? A puffer is an unattended vehicle that is left running. They make it easy for a theft to jump in.

What’s the problem? In addition to being bad for the environment, unattended vehicles that are left running are easy targets to spot. It takes mere seconds for these vehicles to be stolen.

Prevent theft: While some areas have made puffing illegal, it is still an excellent idea to never leave your car running or unattended for any reason. Stay safe!

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

Stories of auto theft around the world.

Canada & the Port of Montreal – Stopping The Overseas Trip

Équité Association, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) celebrated a record‐breaking year between the tri‐party partnership. More than 1,000 stolen vehicles, valued at more than $40 million, were recovered from the Port of Montreal in 2021.

Over the last three years, recoveries have increased 200% at the Port of Montreal as a direct result of this partnership. What’s the secret to their success? True collaboration. Vehicle theft is not a victimless crime. Working together, the three parties tackle insurance fraud, disrupt organized crime, and the funding of terrorism, preventing stolen vehicles from leaving Canada.

The Port of Montreal provides access to 110 million customers via rail, trucking, and shipping. A large majority of containers leaving the Port of Montreal with stolen vehicles are destined for the Middle East and Africa. In 2021, containers were found with 1,020 cars and vans worth $47 million before being loaded onto ships.

Prior to the recoveries in 2021, there were 6,572 vehicle thefts in the city, an increase of 37% compared to the previous year. With vehicle thefts rising in Montreal, and across Canada strong partnerships like this are key to defending against insurance crime at the ports and guaranteeing the recovery of property belonging to hard‐working Canadians.

South Africa – Bombé: The Catalytic Converter Drug Craze

A new drug called bombé is raising alarm bells across the globe. The dangerous drug is made from crushed powder from a car’s catalytic converter which contains zinc oxide, platinum, and rhodium. Bombé first appeared in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa. The word “bombé” means “powerful” in Lingala, a language from the northern parts of the Congo.

Bombé is growing in popularity around the world. Those who use bombé also mix it with sleeping tablets, sedatives, or add it to tobacco. It makes users slip into a zombie‐like state, with some falling asleep while standing. The drug can cause heart and lung problems and there have also been reports of deaths.

While not as wide‐spread an issue as the fentanyl and opioid crisis, bombé is definitely on the rise and another reason that thieves are targeting catalytic converters.

USA & Hawaii – Auto Theft in Paradise

When thinking about this major beach destination, the idea of auto crime is not part of the equation. However, in 2021, there were 4,816 auto thefts, 6,906 reports of theft from vehicles, and 3,780 incidents of stolen vehicle accessories reported in Hawaii. Hawaii is a major shipping destination, receiving at least 90% of its goods by air and sea. Like many ports, stolen vehicles are shipped out in containers. If the sender claims the container contains household goods or merchandise, it will not be inspected.

Fraudsters and criminals merely moving their operations to less policed areas has become a growing global concern. Even an area as serene as Hawaii requires vigilance and support!

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