Auto theft is back in fashion, the most stolen vehicles of 2020

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Auto theft has experienced a downward trend over the past two years. According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, 2019 represented a 4% decrease in thefts in the United States compared to the previous year. But things look even better when you zoom out. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that auto transgressions have declined 64% since 1993, mimicking the general trajectory of property crime and violent crime during this time period.

Unfortunately, crime is back and vehicle theft is on the rise. Let’s explore the how and why before determining if your personal journey is a prime target. Then we’ll see what you can do about it, as the latest stats are quite daunting.

Over the summer, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles informed residents that they might consider upgrading their security level if they didn’t want their car to be stolen or disemboweled for pieces. Yours truly even received a letter in the mail explaining how to make my vehicle a less appetizing target. Motorcycle thefts increased 63% in the first six months of 2021 in New York City, and vehicle thefts statewide increased 54% in 2020 (year-on-year). Early estimates indicate that 2021 is considerably worse.

While I’m sure some of these missing motorcycles were picked up by the NYPD as part of the city’s heinous ‘dirt bike’ ban, the extent of the problem is obviously much greater when 572% converters Additional catalysts were removed from vehicles through the first half of 2021 than all last year. Auto crime is not limited to the whole vehicle, nor to the Big Apple for that matter. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Chicago saw an insane 134% increase in vehicle thefts last year (compared to 2019) and Washington DC has jumped 50% during the same period.

The group estimated that auto crime in the United States increased by at least 9% in 2020 (year over year), NICB President and CEO David Glawe suggesting the response national pandemic has essentially set the stage for a wave of criminal wrongdoing. .

“We have a lot of disenfranchised youth who are unemployed, and outreach programs are closed or limited due to Covid,” Glawe said. CNBC in June. “There is frustration and anger in society. We are also seeing limitations in public safety resources and the withdrawal of proactive policing services due to budget constraints. “

With 2021 already showing that crime could be America’s only growth market right now, next year’s tally is unlikely to be much worse. Production constraints, compounded by endemic supply issues, have dramatically increased the value of vehicles (new and used) in recent months. Used pieces of steel are listed about 30% higher today than they were in 2020 and thieves have taken note.

Although not all vehicles have proven to be equally desirable. While they’ve managed to hang on, America’s most boosted automobile is no longer a Honda Civic or Accord. According to the NICB, likes have turned to pickup trucks, and they are among the top ten most stolen cars for 2020:

2006 Ford Pickup Truck (Full Size)
2004 Chevrolet Pickup Truck (Full Size)
Honda Civic 2000
1997 Honda Accord
2019 Toyota Camry
Nissan Altima 2020
2005 GMC Pickup Truck (Full Size)
Toyota Corolla 2020
2000 Honda CR-V
2001 Dodge Pickup Truck (Full Size)

Full-size pickup trucks were already all the rage among thieves in 2018 and have only become more popular since. But we still see the usual range of small Japanese products inclined to retain their value to round out the list. Plus, don’t be fooled by some of those older model years. Stealing a modern car with a keyless entry / push-button start is no more difficult than catching one from two decades ago. You just need a different set of tools to relay, decode, and spoof the frequency that the RF remote is transmitting.

For those who wish to reduce their chances of becoming a victim, there are many obvious things you can do. We recommend that you never leave the keys in your car for any reason and keep them in well-lit places. It is also advisable to park your car in a safer location than the sidewalk (assuming this is possible). If you have a keyless entry and / or push-button start, you may want to consider keeping the remotes inside a DIY Faraday (or store-bought) pouch to prevent someone from getting caught. other does not access the frequency. Just be sure to test it to make sure it’s effective.

But those who want to step up their safety game even further can step into the world of circuit breakers, fuel line cuts, tracking systems, immobilizers, and car alarms. While you need to decide what you’re willing to do and (in the case of alarms) agree to, the above can help mitigate your risk of waking up without a vehicle. Alarms are a great deterrent, they often scare off potential thieves by drawing attention to the car while annoying your neighbors. But they can be overcome and are less effective in places where car alarms are part of the evening mood. Installing a hidden kill switch or fuel cutoff adds another layer of protection, although it’s not something everyone can do on their own or would like to deal with on a shared vehicle.

There are also cheaper and simpler solutions. Your author was lucky by simply swapping the wires on the distributor found on older vehicles. But it could cause you to get dirty when you forget and try to start the vehicle. Chances are also good that you have something more modern. A better solution may be to simply turn off the battery if you are leaving your vehicle unattended for an extended period of time using a quick disconnect. Although my favorite solution is to simply remove any fuse relay the car needs to operate, take it out with it in my pocket, and reinstall it once I’m ready to use the vehicle again. It’s free, can be accomplished by novices with minimal research, and fundamentally foolproof, unless you’re dealing with a particularly dedicated and well-prepared thief.

In the end, all you really need to do is mess with someone who wants to steal your car to the point of choosing another target. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to do this, so it’s probably a good idea to double down and maximize your chances. But anything you can do (including my recommendations on dust bags) is likely to make a significant difference as auto theft comes back into fashion.

[Image: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock]

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