Avoiding auto theft


Used with Permission by Flickr/Bill Selak

Just a small mistake could end up draining your already broken holiday bank account.

Elana Bishop, Staff Writer

Over the past weekend, five cars were stolen throughout the city of Sioux Falls. Keloland states, “In each [of the five cases], the keys were in the ignition and the engine was running.” Big mistake. Drivers should never leave their vehicle unattended with the keys inside while running errands or even at home. According to Cars.com, “Many car insurers won’t cover owner negligence, such as leaving your running vehicle unattended.”

It is understandable that the majority of people may not want to wait in their car when the winter temperatures are starting to drop below zero. But by leaving their car unattended they significantly increase the odds of it being stolen. Most people are not aware that it takes thieves only a few seconds to jump in the vehicle and take off.

This time of year, police say it is often a crime of opportunity. Colder weather can lead to a simple and easy selection of potential car-theft victims. Driveways and parking lots are frequent locations because thieves often look for the white smoke coming from the exhaust of unattended vehicles. “According tothe National Insurance Crime Bureau, unattended vehicle thefts with keys or fobs left inside the vehicle occur so frequently that they made up 11% of all vehicle thefts in 2018 or approximately 81,911 vehicles stolen,” stated CBS.

As well as making sure running vehicles are attended to, pay attention to the view from the outside of the car. Cover presents with coats, blankets, under seats, etc. to avoid drawing attention. “According to Larry Siegel, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell,… cold weather allows for greater disguise, and robbers may be attracted to the merchandise people are buying for the holiday season,” stated Cars.com

To avoid becoming an auto theft victim here are some recommended tips provided by CBS:

  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee.
  • Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even at a gas station or at home.
  • Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle, including under floor mats, sun visor, etc.
  • Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a secure garage or a well-lit area at night. 
  • Have windows VIN etched. Car window VIN etchings are small, but visible enough to deter thieves, according to law enforcement officials. Since car thieves frequently steal vehicles to sell off the automobile’s parts, a window that is VIN etched makes a vehicle less profitable for thieves and helps law enforcement recover stolen vehicles.