Every year in the City of Los Angeles approximately 30,000 vehicles are stolen. In fact, vehicle theft represents approximately 24 percent of the property crimes and 18 percent of total crime in the City. Auto theft is a big and profitable business occurring more often in large cities. According to the FBI crime statistics, a car is stolen every 23 seconds. The experienced car thief can steal the average car in less than a minute. In 2003, 89 percent of the vehicles stolen in the City of Los Angeles were recovered, and of those, 50 percent had been stripped or damaged to some degree. Most cars are seemingly stolen for transportation, while others for the value of their parts. The most frequently stolen vehicles are the most popularly sold over the last decade. For the past five years the most frequently stolen vehicles have been the late 1980’s and early 1990’s model Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Honda Accord. These vehicles have been targeted because of the ease in which they can be stolen. Owners of these vehicles should take precautions to prevent their vehicle from being stolen.
Car thefts seem to occur with greater frequency where large groups of cars are parked for extended periods of time in places such as shopping centers, colleges, sporting events, movie complexes, and large apartment complexes. Car thefts occur at random on different days of the week and times of the day, depending on the locations.
Below are some tips you can use to avoid being the victim of a car thief:
- Never leave your car running unattended, even to dash into a business, store, etc.;
- Never leave any keys in the car or ignition, inside a locked garage, or in hide-a-key boxes;
- Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is parked in front of your home;
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk out of sight;
- Always park in high-traffic, well-lighted areas, when possible;
- Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column, or brakes. These devices will deter some criminals;
- Investigate the purchase of a vehicle theft tracking/security system, especially if you own one of the frequently stolen model vehicles;
- Never leave personal identification documents, vehicle ownership title, or credit cards in your vehicle;
- Copy your license plate and vehicle information (VIN) numbers on a card and keep them with you. If your vehicle is stolen, the police will need this information to take a report; and,
- If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police immediately.
Remember, there is no guarantee that your car will not be stolen, but taking precautionary measures can minimize your chances of becoming the victim of auto theft.