Vehicle Theft and Thefts from Vehicles

The one thing that people really don’t want to see when they go out to their parking space is… nothing.  But, while Arizona was #1 state for car theft in 2010, we’ve dropped down to 15th in the nation.

"But, I left it right here!"

"But, I left it right here!"

Less danger of auto theft

The executive director of the Arizona Auto Theft Association, Frederick Zumbo, says that ten years ago, “People were losing their homes, moving and in crisis. Now, things have leveled out, and there has been a general lull in the crime rate. Things bottomed out and have remained low."

Another reason that car theft is declining is technology. Newer cars have smart technology which deters thieves. This implies a continuing decline in auto theft. But, car thieves aren’t completely done with vehicle owners yet. 

New threat to parts

Tailgate theft rose from 430 in 2010 to 1900 in 2015. Officials know that figure is higher, but people are reluctant to report it. It only takes 30 seconds for a thief to remove a tailgate, which only requires the use of simple tools. The payoff? Electronics and scrap metal, both of which they can get from a tailgate theft.

For truck owners, this can be big bucks: it’s estimated that a 2016 Ford F-250 King Ranch pickup tailgate costs $3k to replace. Tailgate thefts have risen in Arizona: our state is now ranked 4th in the nation. It’s not just private individuals: even dealerships have been targeted for tailgate theft.

Don't see this as a truckful of tailgates. See it as ten angry truck owners. Thieves hate alert people.

Don't see this as a truckful of tailgates. See it as ten angry truck owners. Thieves hate alert people.

Watch your tail

Last month was the kickoff of the ‘Watch Your Tail’ prevention campaign, urging truck owners to secure their tailgates by locking them and even parking with the tailgate backed up close to a wall or other surface.  The AATA also has a  DIY kit which will secure a tailgate in two minutes. (Interested truck owners can call AATA staff member Ann Armstrong 602 364-2892)

If you don’t have a truck, there’s no reason to feel left out: over 75,000 airbags are stolen from cars nationwide each year. Since an airbag is much easier to steal than a Fiat, it’s no wonder that thieves, now thwarted by technology, don’t steal the whole vehicle anymore--they simply carry off bits of it.

Other things car thieves steal are GPS systems, expensive sound systems and car TV sets, cell phones and electronics (iPods, portable game systems), third-row seats, rims, and tires. Nice rims and tires are a shout out to car thieves. 

How to avoid theft of belongings

Sadly enough, these items aren't covered by your insurance if they get stolen.

Create an algorithmic habit of securing your vehicle with the key fob every time you walk away from it. This habit will not only keep your car and contents safe; it will help prevent a lockout.
Keep valuables out of sight. Car windows are like a display case to would-be thieves. Don’t leave your house keys or garage door openers out, either. A smart thief only needs your garage door opener and registration (read: address) to turn his auto break into a house break. I have a sinking feeling your home entry door from the garage isn’t locked, either. Wait. Did you remember to set the house alarm?

Leave your car in lighted locations at night. If you see anyone walking through a parking lot checking random car doors, do not park there. Call the police and report it. Even if you see someone trying to pick a car door, don't assume they are a locksmith.