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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Don’t lose it

Most of us depend heavily on a car or truck — taking it’s availability for granted.  So what would happen if it’s no longer where you parked it one day?  It would be shocking, but not really in the big picture.

While you may not have had a vehicle stolen, around 770,000 drivers are each year in the United States fall victim to that unfortunate and costly crime.  Therefore, when your trusty car or truck is missing some day, it would not be that unlikely.

But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about half of those three-quarter-million annual thefts are due to driver error.  Vehicle theft is a multi-billion-dollar crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles coming in at nearly $6 billion each year. Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft, so now is a good time to address the topic.

To help drivers keep their vehicles safe, the NHTSA is continuing its annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Campaign during July — National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.  Having knowledge about the problem is a good start for avoiding it.

A motor vehicle is stolen approximately every 40 seconds in our country. The top ten vehicles stolen are:  Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Camry, Ford F150, Nissan Altima, Toyota Corolla, Ford F250, Ford Econoline, and Honda CR-V.  If you have one of those, you are among the most likely to have your ride go missing.

The top ten states reporting vehicle theft are:  California, Texas, Florida, Washington, Illinois, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and Arizona.  Number four out of fifty means high theft odds for Washington drivers, so when paired with those driving certain makes, caution is in order.

For all of us, the NHTSA offers common sense reminders:  Take your key with you — do not leave it in or “hidden” on your vehicle; Close and lock all windows and doors when you park; Park in well-lit areas if possible; Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially if they can be seen from outside the vehicle.

Thieves steal vehicles for parts and valuable items.  Some of the most popular vehicle parts or valuable items stolen from vehicles include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses.

Numerous anti-theft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover are available.  Here are a few:  Audible devices, such as a horn alarm, deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle. Visible devices create a visual warning or deterrence, such as the use of steering-wheel locks, as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights, and window etching.  Immobilizing devices prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine. Vehicle Recovery Systems use electronic technology to help law enforcement reveal the location of stolen vehicles — and possibly catch thieves in the act.

If you are a victim of vehicle theft, contact the police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You’ll need to provide the police report and case number for your insurance company. Be prepared with the license plate number; make, model, and color of your vehicle; and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), along with unique identifying characteristics.

Be wary and prepared — good luck!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at