Car break-ins are surging in many parts of the United States, so what can drivers do to keep their cars and belongings safe? In some parts of the country, vehicle owners have been taking extra precautions to avoid burglary and break-in attempts.
This post will look at crime statistics in recent years and put forward some methods of securing your vehicle from theft.
Car break-ins on the rise
In many parts of the United States, it seems like auto thefts are becoming an everyday occurrence. Cities such as Bakersfield, CA experience, on average, one auto theft every 36 seconds. That’s nearly two auto thefts every minute. Grand Theft Auto was supposed to be a video game, not the real world!
Residents of the Bay Area are also feeling the pinch of auto thefts, with SFPD Deputy Chief Garret Tom stating that he’s never seen people go to such great lengths to protect their belongings inside of their vehicles in the past 40 years of serving his community (we’ll go into that in more detail later).
OPD in Oakland reported a 27% increase in car break-ins and auto burglaries while SFPD has reported a staggering 32% increase in car break-ins from 2020-2021.
Laptops, briefcases, or anything of value is sure to attract burglaries, particularly when the vehicle is parked on street and in plain view. Thieves are going after just about anything they can find of value, but they’re increasingly smashing windows in order to sift through objects of seemingly no value at all! Even worse, it seems that many are smashing windows for no apparent reason at all.
Car theft hotspots across the United States
If car thefts are rampant, is this based on statistics? Moreover, where exactly are car thefts happening at the highest rates? The National Insurance Crime Bureau has assembled statistics on car thefts in the United States that seem to confirm accounts of a rise in car theft in many urban areas.
Automobile thefts rates in 2020 by state & by MSA per 100,000 residents:
|Rank||State||Rate||Metropolitan Statistical Area||Rate|
|9||Nevada||365.84||St. Joseph, MO||564.64|
|5||New Mexico||426.19||San Francisco, CA||655.20|
|2||Colorado||502.12||Yuba City, CA||724.46|
|1||Washington, D.C.||562.98||Bakersfield, CA||905.41|
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau, NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country
When taken on a per 100,000 resident basis, it is evident from the above data that California and Colorado tend to experience high rates of vehicle theft. When taken as a gross number, however, California leads by a wide margin with 187,094 vehicle thefts in 2020.
California, Texas and Florida alone account for 37% of all vehicle thefts in the United States. News reports of rampant vehicle theft in the Bay Area, therefore, are backed by data from the NICB. Furthermore, total auto thefts in the United States have risen by 11% in 2020 after many years of gradual decline.
How to secure your vehicle from theft
There are many techniques that drivers can apply to better secure their vehicles and their belongings. In light of the recent spike in car break-ins in the Bay Area and now in many other metropolitan areas of the United States, some new and perhaps unconventional methods are also being used by drivers. Let’s take a look at both schools of thought:
Traditional auto theft prevention methods:
- Park in well-lit and relatively secure areas (secure parking garages, on-street parking near a busy street, etc.). Nearly 47% of Americans don’t park in well-lit areas.
- Always keep your doors locked when parked. Nearly 21% of Americans don’t lock their doors.
- Use a steering wheel lock.
- Invest in comprehensive auto insurance.
- Always remove all valuables from your vehicle. Nearly 40% of Americans don’t hide or remove their valuables.
- Turn on your car alarm or have one installed.
- Minimize time spent away from your vehicle, especially if you’ve parked in a potentially unsafe area.
- Keep your vehicle stored safely in a garage at home and, if possible, while you’re at work.
- Move to a safer neighborhood or city with a lower occurrence of crime.
- Use CCTV cameras at home, pointed towards your vehicle (if parked on street) and register your vehicle with the police, if possible.
- Do not leave your vehicle while it is running. Savvy thieves can easily steal your vehicle this way.
California’s emerging car break-in prevention method
Some residents in the Bay Area and other car break-in hotspots in California have turned to extreme measures to minimize damage to their parked vehicles. SFPD have reported that some residents have begun leaving the windows rolled down, the doors purposely unlocked to deter burglars from smashing the windows, and even leaving the trunk open to display to would-be burglars that there’s nothing inside.
The philosophy behind this apparently reckless behavior might be that drivers simply know that auto break-ins are more likely to happen than not, so it’s better to clearly show any burglars that there’s nothing of value inside of the vehicle – and they’re free to enter as they please! Keeping windows rolled up and doors locked, therefore, gives burglars an incentive to smash the window ‘just for fun’ or to sift through the seats and storage for anything of value.
We’ll leave it to you, the reader, to come to your own conclusions about this particular method of ‘protecting’ a vehicle.
De-clutter your vehicle
One of the biggest reasons why burglars break into vehicles is to steal belongings. Carjacking or stealing components like catalytic converters, batteries, or tires are also serious considerations for many burglars, but a $1,000 iPhone or laptop sitting in the back seat makes for easy pickings.
One of the best ways to deter car break-ins is to de-clutter your vehicle. Leave all valuables at home under lock and key and take any essential valuables like your phone, watch, and laptop with you. De-cluttering your vehicle and having no trash or bags left behind also shows burglars – if they peep through the window – that there’s likely nothing of value hiding inside of a bag or under some loose trash, for example.
Automotive locksmiths can help keep your vehicle secure from unwanted entry, but they can’t deter burglars from attempting to smash a window.
Keep your car safe and secure with automotive locksmith services
One way to keep your vehicle safe and secure is to make sure that your doors are securely locked whenever you’re away. If you’ve lost your key or your vehicle has been broken into and you need urgent assistance, get professional help from a qualified automotive locksmith near you. Get started by clicking on the GET QUOTES tab above.