Auto theft is a crime that can occur in any neighborhood, in any county, and in any city. Auto thieves are most often thieves of opportunity and because of this there are a number of things that can be done in order to protect your vehicles. The FBI reports that Kansas law enforcement agencies reported 6,009 auto thefts in 2010 and 5,958 in 20091. This is an increase of 0.9%.
As previously mentioned, auto theft is most often a crime of opportunity and because of this crime prevention techniques are often extremely useful in reducing the number of auto thefts and/or attempted auto thefts in a community. Below is a list of potential things that can be done to help protect your vehicles:
ALWAYS lock your car and roll up the windows (even if you live in a rural area and have never had a problem with theft).
NEVER leave your vehicle running and unlocked.
This often takes place in driveways when people are trying to
warm their vehicles up or in gas station parking lots when
people are just “running in for a minute.” There are often
people watching and waiting for a driver to make this mistake.
When parking on the street, engage your
emergency brake and turn your wheels all the way to the curb.
This makes it difficult for auto thieves to tow your vehicle
Don’t hide an extra key in your vehicle and
don’t leave a valet key in your vehicle if your vehicle has one.
NEVER leave valuables in plain sight. This
includes keys, wallets, purses, cell phones, stereo systems, and
packages of any kind. While the rates of auto thefts are
decreasing, thefts or larcenies from vehicles have remained
steady in their numbers over the past several years.
When in a public place such as a park or zoo
parking lot DO NOT place your valuables in your trunk in plain
view of other people. Place your purse, wallet, etc. in your
trunk when no one can see you or better yet, leave those items
Do your best to park somewhere where it’s
brightly lit and there is a good chance that lots of people will
be able to see your vehicle if someone is attempting to break
DO NOT leave your vehicle’s title in your
vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen, having access to the title
makes it very easy for thieves to make a profit on your vehicle.
In Kansas, someone attempting to sell a car to a legitimate
salvage yard must provide the vehicle’s title in order to do so.
DO NOT leave personal documents such as bank statements, SSN cards, credit card bills, etc. in your vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen or broken into, you are making yourself a prime target for identity theft.2
Don’t believe that just because you drive an older vehicle, that you are safe from auto theft. The most targeted vehicles are often those that are 10 to 12 years old. If your older vehicle has a T-shaped door lock, switch these to vertical locks.
Invest in some type of anti-theft device. These can range from fairly inexpensive to very expensive but the idea here is that something is better than nothing.
If you do have an audible anti-theft alarm on your car or truck, make sure that it is adjusted so that it is not going off constantly. A car alarm that is constantly going off will have no value because neighbors will disregard it as simply being another false alarm.
Consider etching the VIN into your vehicle’s
windows. There are a number of products that will allow you to
do this. These cannot be removed like engine, dashboard, and
door VIN plates.
If you have a garage, use it! Even though it may mean spending a Saturday cleaning it out, thieves are much less likely to steal a car out of a garage than out of a driveway or off the street.
Write down your vehicle’s VINS and tag numbers and place one copy in your purse and/or wallet. In the event that your vehicle is stolen, this will greatly assist law enforcement and will enable them to have your stolen vehicle’s information placed in the national crime computer system much faster. This should be done for each vehicle that you own.
Here are some things that may want to consider if you are going to be purchasing a used vehicle:
Be suspicious of any deal that may be too good
to be true.
When buying from a private party, make sure
that the name on the title and registration are the same as the
seller’s name on the seller’s driver’s license.
We strongly suggest that you consider running
the VIN of a vehicle that you are considering purchasing through
your local police department in order to check and see if it’s
stolen. This can also be done on
If things “just aren’t adding up”, reconsider purchasing the vehicle. For example, inconsistent stories from the seller along with a missing or damaged VIN plate may indicate that the vehicle may be stolen or embezzled.
Implementing the above crime prevention techniques will greatly decrease your chances of becoming a victim of auto theft and/or a theft from your vehicle.
So what types of vehicles are being taken? Per the FBI, here is a table showing the most commonly stolen types of vehicles in 2010 nationwide3.
Losing a vehicle by theft can be extremely detrimental to a family, especially in today’s economy. By enacting some of the above prevention ideas, you can decrease your chances of becoming a victim and can also decrease your chances of becoming the victim of other crimes associated with auto theft and larcenies from vehicles such as identity theft, criminal use of a financial card, and forgery. As always, if you have any questions about protecting your vehicle from theft, don’t hesitate to call the Sheriff’s Office. We’d be happy to help!