July is Vehicle Theft Protection Month, so we wanted to take this opportunity to raise awareness of the issue, and offer a few suggestions on ways to keep your vehicle safer.

Vehicle theft is on the rise. According to the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, overall property crime decreased year-over-year from 2014 to 2015. However, the report noted there was one exception to that: motor vehicle thefts actually rose by 1{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} in the same time period. When other types of property crimes were decreasing by close to 10{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} in some segments, this is a significant problem.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) also released a report looking at the issue, but they focused on the specific areas with the highest rates of vehicle theft. The report obtains vehicle theft data from law enforcement agencies across the country, and ranks states according to how many thefts they have overall. The states with the most thefts in 2014 — the most current year that the data has been released, as the FBI statistics are traditionally released in early fall — ranked in order are:

  1. California – 151,852
  2. Texas – 68,546
  3. Florida – 42,579
  4. Washington – 30,647
  5. Georgia – 26,854
  6. Michigan – 21,157
  7. Ohio – 18,015
  8. Arizona – 17,587
  9. Illinois – 17,451
  10. Missouri – 16,357

The NICB also ranks the types of vehicles most likely to be stolen:

What does that mean for the average consumer looking to protect their vehicle from theft — especially those buying the most targeted vehicles in the most theft-prone states in the country? RoadVantage has several solutions including etch, body labels and our GPS product we talked about back in May. Our GPS product is designed to help recover vehicles quickly in the event they are stolen, and get them back to their rightful owners. Many insurance companies even offer a discount to consumers who have GPS products installed in their vehicles, making them a smart choice, especially for consumers buying the most theft-popular vehicles in the most theft-prone states.

But in addition to this type of protection, which can help get the car back if something ever does happen, there are a few tips that F&I managers can offer their customers, courtesy of F&I and Showroom magazine which can not only help prevent auto theft, but help keep them safe from other types of theft that can go hand-in-hand with having their vehicle stolen.

  • Be Selective with Sensitive Data: Be aware that personal data stored in your vehicle, such as credit card information or home address in an onboard navigational system, could be vulnerable to theft.
  • Update Manufacturer Software: Download the latest firmware and software upgrades from the vehicle manufacturer as they become available. Ask about updates when visiting the service department of your dealership.
  • Stay Informed of Recalls: Stay abreast of vehicle-enabled cyberattacks, and check with your vehicle manufacturer about any security recalls or alerts.
  • Use Theft Prevention Products: Immobilizers and visible, audible warning devices are good deterrents and can provide advanced protection.
  • Install a Tracking Device: Consider installing a tracking device operated by law enforcement so that stolen assets have a better chance of being recovered.
  • Keep Your Assets Close: Do not leave smart phones and tablets unattended, as they can be used to access more data. Additionally, use proper safety protocols on vehicles with keyless ignitions.

And practice common sense. Never leave keys in the vehicle with the engine running and don’t hide a spare key in the car. Additionally, lock all doors when exiting the vehicle. It seems obvious, but car owners are still victimized by not taking these basic safety precautions. Texas even has a long-running campaign called Hide Lock Take that encourages everyone to hide valuables, lock the car and take the keys with you. It is the single best way to thwart those looking for an opportunity to steal.

By taking precautions, consumers can limit their risk of having their vehicles stolen, as well as increase the chances of recovering it if the worst-case scenario does happen. Especially with the summer vacation season in full swing, don’t forget to secure your vehicle so the only memories you bring home are of good times with the family, not police stations and the frustration and helplessness that comes from dealing with stolen cars.

This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage