Have you or has anyone in your circle had their vehicle stolen or broken into this year? 2022 has been a landmark year in which car theft in the US has hit record high rates since 2008, according to analysis from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
What’s driving (no pun intended) the rapid rise in car theft? How many cars have been stolen in 2022? What can drivers do to keep their vehicle safe under lock and key?
Below are some findings from the NICB and the FBI on car thefts and vehicle-related crime as well as some common-sense solutions for drivers that want to avoid having their vehicle stolen.
How serious is vehicle theft in 2022?
Things are bad… real bad. Around half a million vehicles have been stolen in the first half of 2022 alone, with an expected 100,000 more to be stolen by the year’s end. All told, the estimated value of these hot wheels add up to around $4.5 billion, but you can also imagine all of the inconvenience and stress that victims have to go through. Victims suffer financial damage, too, such as missing days of work and seeing their insurance premiums going up.
Crime rates have been steadily going up over the past few years, but a 25% increase from 2019-2022 is particularly noteworthy. There are a lot of potential factors that play into why this might be happening at such an alarming rate, such as:
- Used car prices have skyrocketed in the US since the pandemic, going up around 35-40% across the board;
- Catalytic converters have become hot items for thieves, with theft rates going up a shocking 1,215% from 2019-2022;
- Violent crime has surged in many urban centers in the US, which often includes violent carjacking and theft;
- Inflation and other tough economic conditions may be incentivizing criminals to steal vehicles;
- Many law enforcement agencies have been de-funded and/or lack the manpower to keep streets safe.
Whether it’s one or multiple of the above factors that contribute, the data is clear that car theft and carjackings are at historic highs in the US in 2022.
How can you prevent carjacking or vehicle theft?
Since car theft is happening at such a high rate in 2022 and is expected to continue along this trajectory, many Americans should be taking extra precautions to keep their vehicles safe. This should not come at the expense of personal safety, however, so don’t risk your life for your vehicle! You can always buy another vehicle, but you can’t buy another life.
When it comes to carjacking, it can be difficult to outright prevent it from occurring, since it is a violent crime that can happen to anyone at any time. Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid high-crime neighborhoods, especially if you’re driving a relatively nice car. If you must drive through a suspicious neighborhood, maintain a steady velocity and don’t stop or idle longer than you have to.
If you are held up at gunpoint, your choice is often done in a split second: comply with the thief or exercise your second amendment right to self-defence – what you choose is up to you, but it may be in your best interest to preserve your own life and to surrender the vehicle. Grand Theft Auto may be a fun videogame, but in real life you don’t often get second chances in life or death scenarios.
Vehicle theft & burglary
As for car theft, the measures of prevention largely have to do with your own precautions as well as where your vehicle is located. It has become unfortunately common to see repeated and frequent burglaries and car thefts in cities like San Francisco, where residents have even gone so far as to purposely leave their doors unlocked and their windows rolled down to show thieves that there is nothing of value worth stealing.
In less dangerous towns and cities in the US, you probably would never actually want to do this. Instead, your focus should be on safe and secure parking while you’re away from your vehicle.
Some tips include:
- Park in a well-lit area, preferably in a safe neighborhood and/or in an enclosed space (i.e. parking garage);
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended for too long if you’re worried about your parking space;
- Roll up all windows and lock your doors;
- Remove all valuable objects (better yet, don’t bring them if you don’t need to) from the vehicle before leaving it;
- Use a steering column collar, wheel locks, brake locks, and/or an alarm system to deter burglars and thieves;
- Use remote keyless entry systems such as wireless ignition authentication;
- Have your vehicle outfitted with an immobilizer system.
How to secure your vehicle from burglary and theft
If your vehicle is stolen, your first response should be to call the police and then your insurance provider to notify them of all relevant details. Sooner is better than later, since the recovery rate for stolen vehicles is quite low at 57.2% and decreasing the longer you wait to notify law enforcement.
Aside from the common sense tips of parking in safe areas and always locking your doors, you can also use technology to your advantage as a deterrent for burglary and theft. The costs can vary quite a bit, so always weigh out your options compared to the value of your vehicle and how much you care about protecting it (which is hopefully at least a little!).
This could include having your door locks replaced, reprogramming your car key fob or transponder, installing an immobilizer, and using steering wheel columns. Fortunately, a reputable automotive locksmith can help with many of these tasks and the peace of mind they can bring. The prices for hiring an automotive locksmith can vary quite a bit from city to city, county to county, but even small security upgrades or changes to your locks can prevent a whole lot of headache and potential financial loss (e.g. losing an iPad or important documents from the back seat).
What is being done to reduce car theft in the US?
The bad news should be evident from this article – car theft is surging across the United States. There is good news, however. David Glawe, CEO of the NICB, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2022. He provided six reasonable policy recommendations that would address the rise in violent carjackings and vehicle theft plaguing the nation. An Executive Order signed by President Biden has since adopted many of these recommendations.
Aside from policy and law enforcement, which may or may not have been relevant to you in the first place, the best thing you can do is exercise due diligence and caution whenever you’re in or parking your vehicle. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings and know how to deter would-be thieves and burglars with these tips.
Hire an auto locksmith to secure your vehicle today
Need to secure your vehicle with new or replacement lock and key systems? Locked out of your car and need an emergency locksmith? Want to cut a few spare keys or reprogram your key fob and transponder? Hire a genuine local locksmith vetted and approved for quality by using Auto Locksmiths today.