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NHTSA Promotes Vehicle Theft Prevention in July

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Person using a screwdriver to break into a grey vehicle
Car thief
Photo: TheDigitalWay

July represents the heat of summer and the independence of the United States, but it also serves as a reminder to car owners everywhere to protect their vehicles. July, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.

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“Finding that your vehicle has been stolen can be a stressful event,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator. “Vehicle theft is driven by money and greed, a dangerous business that victimizes everyone, but fortunately, drivers can take precautions to reduce the risk of it happening.”

National Vehicle Theft Prevention month is about highlighting protective measures drivers can take to help prevent their vehicle from becoming a theft statistic. In 2019, the number of motor vehicles stolen in the country reached approximately 721,885, 74.5 percent being automobiles, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

“In 2019, about three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States — and nearly half of those thefts were due to driver error. Vehicle theft is a multi-billion-dollar crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles coming in at about $6 billion in 2019 alone,” reports the NHTSA.

Theft deterrents

The NHTSA recommends parking in areas with plenty of light. Before you leave your vehicle in its parking space, be sure all the doors and windows are securely locked.

Thieves are on the lookout for valuables left behind in cars, so make sure yours aren’t visible. Hide your laptop, purse, or other valuables so prying eyes can’t spot them. Or, even better, don’t leave those items unattended in your car at all.

And while leaving your keys in your vehicle may reduce the annoyance of carrying them around, leaving them behind makes your car an easy mark for a thief.

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If you want more protection for your vehicle, you can invest in antitheft systems or devices that deter thieves with an audible alert or work by immobilizing the ignition system of your car. Police may have an easier time locating your stolen vehicle if you opt for a vehicle recovery system, adds the NHTSA.