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What is Motor Vehicle Theft and How to Report It

Theft Car: What You Need to Know

Car theft is a serious problem that affects millions of drivers every year. According to the FBI, there were 810,400 vehicles stolen in 2020, up 11.8% from 2019, when 724,872 vehicles were stolen. Car theft can cause financial losses, emotional distress, and inconvenience for car owners. It can also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and crimes involving stolen vehicles.

In this article, we will explain what a theft car is, how to prevent car theft, how to deal with car theft, and how car insurance covers theft. By reading this article, you will learn how to protect your vehicle from thieves and what to do if you become a victim of car theft.

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What is a theft car?

Definition and types of theft cars

A theft car is any vehicle that has been stolen from its owners, no matter what happens to the vehicle once it has been stolen. The vehicle could be involved in an accident, stripped for parts, sold overseas, or found in mint condition, but it will still be considered a theft car.

There are different types of theft cars depending on the method and motive of the thieves. Some common types are:

  • Relay theft: This is a type of keyless car theft that involves using electronic devices to capture and relay the signal from the key fob to unlock and start the vehicle. This can happen even if the key fob is inside the house or in a pocket.

  • Vandalism theft: This is a type of car theft that involves damaging or destroying the vehicle for fun or revenge. The thieves may break windows, slash tires, spray paint, or set fire to the vehicle.

  • Stripped theft: This is a type of car theft that involves stealing parts or accessories from the vehicle. The thieves may target valuable items such as catalytic converters, airbags, wheels, radios, or batteries.

  • Exported theft: This is a type of car theft that involves shipping or transporting the vehicle to another country or region where it can be sold for a higher price. The thieves may alter or remove the vehicle identification number (VIN) or use fake documents to avoid detection.

Statistics and trends of theft cars

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), over 1 million vehicles were stolen in 2022, a 7 percent increase over 2021 and surpassing 1 million for the first time since 2008. California and Texas had the most reported stolen vehicles, and Illinois had the largest increase, estimated at 35 percent between 2021 and 2022.

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The most stolen vehicles nationally in 2021 were the 2004 Chevrolet Pick-Up (full size), the 2006 Ford Pick-Up (full size), and the 2000 Honda Civic. Bakersfield, CA, tops the list for the third year in a row, with the highest automobile theft rate in the U.S., according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau 2021 Hot Spots Report. The theft rate in Bakersfield in 2021 was 1,023.68 vehicles stolen per 100,000 residents, a 13 percent increase over 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic, corresponding economic downturn, public safety resource limitations and a decrease in programs for at-risk youth are some of the factors that contributed to the increase in vehicle thefts in 2021. The NICB also warns that the theft of catalytic converters, which contain precious metals, has surged in recent years due to the high prices of these metals. According to the NICB, there were 14,433 catalytic converter thefts reported in 2020, compared to 3,389 in 2019 and 1,298 in 2018. How to prevent car theft

Tips and best practices to protect your vehicle

While car theft can happen to anyone, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the chances of becoming a target. Here are some tips and best practices to protect your vehicle from thieves:

  • Lock your doors and windows: This may seem obvious, but many people forget to lock their doors and windows when they park their car or leave it running. This makes it easy for thieves to enter and drive away with your vehicle. Always lock your doors and windows, even if you are only leaving your car for a few minutes or in a safe area.

  • Park in well-lit and secure areas: Avoid parking your car in dark, isolated, or unattended areas where thieves can operate without being seen or interrupted. Park in well-lit and secure areas, such as garages, lots, or streets with surveillance cameras or security guards. If possible, park near other vehicles or in front of buildings where people can see your car.

  • Do not leave valuables or keys in your car: Thieves may break into your car if they see valuables or keys inside. Do not leave anything that may attract attention or tempt thieves, such as wallets, purses, phones, laptops, GPS devices, or documents. If you have to leave something in your car, hide it in the trunk or glove compartment. Never leave your keys in your car or in a visible place, such as under the mat or on the wheel.

  • Use a steering wheel lock or a brake pedal lock: These are simple and inexpensive devices that can deter thieves from stealing your car. A steering wheel lock prevents the wheel from turning, while a brake pedal lock prevents the brake from being pressed. These devices make it harder for thieves to drive away with your car, and they also make your car more visible to potential witnesses.

Types of anti-theft systems and devices

In addition to the tips and best practices mentioned above, you can also use anti-theft systems and devices to protect your vehicle from thieves. These are more advanced and expensive options that can prevent, detect, or recover theft cars. Some common types are:

  • Alarm system: This is a device that emits a loud noise or flashes lights when someone tries to break into or tamper with your car. An alarm system can scare off thieves or alert nearby people of a possible theft. Some alarm systems can also notify you or the police via phone or email if your car is being stolen.

  • Immobilizer system: This is a device that prevents the engine from starting without the proper key or code. An immobilizer system can prevent thieves from hot-wiring or using a duplicate key to start your car. Some immobilizer systems can also disable the fuel pump, ignition system, or starter motor if an unauthorized attempt is made.

  • Tracking system: This is a device that uses GPS technology to locate and track your car if it is stolen. A tracking system can help you or the police find and recover your car faster and easier. Some tracking systems can also remotely disable or slow down your car if it is being driven by thieves.

How to deal with car theft

What to do if your car is stolen

If you discover that your car has been stolen, do not panic. Follow these steps to report the theft and increase the chances of recovering your car:

  • Contact the police: Call 911 or the local police department as soon as possible. Provide them with information such as the make, model, color, license plate number, VIN number, and any distinctive features of your car. Also give them details about when and where you last saw your car and if you have any suspects or witnesses. Ask for a copy of the police report for future reference.

  • Contact your insurance company: Call your insurance company within 24 hours of the theft. Inform them of the situation and provide them with the police report number and any other relevant information. Ask them about your coverage options and what documents they need to process your claim. Follow their instructions and cooperate with their investigation.

  • Contact your bank or lender: If your car is financed or leased, contact your bank or lender and inform them of the theft. They may have some requirements or procedures that you need to follow. They may also work with your insurance company to settle the remaining balance of your loan or lease.

  • Contact other agencies or organizations: Depending on your situation, you may need to contact other agencies or organizations that are related to your car. For example, you may need to contact the DMV to report the theft and cancel your registration and title. You may also need to contact your credit card company, toll agency, parking service, or subscription service to cancel or suspend any charges or fees associated with your car.

What to do if your car is recovered

If your car is recovered after being stolen, you may feel relieved and happy. However

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