Vehicle Theft Prevention

Overview

Motor vehicles are the primary mode of transportation for most of us, and often an indispensable part of our lives. But what would happen if your vehicle suddenly disappeared? More than 750,000 drivers fall victim to this costly crime each year.

The Topic

Reducing Motor Vehicle Theft

In 2016, more than 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 almost $6 billion in 2016 alone—up from $5 billion in 2015. Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft. So, to help drivers keep their vehicles safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is continuing its annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Campaign during July—National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.

NHTSA Presents: Driven by Safety
Preventing Vehicle Theft

NHTSA is required by 49 U.S.C. 33104(b)(4) to periodically obtain and publish accurate and reliable theft data. Visit the Vehicle Theft Database

A motor vehicle is stolen every 41 seconds in the United States.
The top 10 stolen vehicles in calendar year 2016:

  1. Honda Accord
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Chevrolet Silverado
  4. Toyota Camry
  5. Ford F150
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. Toyota Corolla
  8. Ford F250
  9. Ford Ecoline
  10. Chevrolet Impala

We are all susceptible to vehicle theft.
Top 10 States for most vehicles stolen in calendar year 2016:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Washington
  5. Georgia
  6. Illinois
  7. Ohio
  8. Colorado
  9. Missouri
  10. Arizona

Use common sense when parking and exiting your vehicle:

  • Take your vehicle's key; do not leave it in or on your vehicle.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas if possible.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially if they can be seen from outside the vehicle.

Thieves want vehicle parts and valuable items, too.
Radios and wheel covers aren't the only popular stolen vehicle parts thieves take. They want whatever sells, from the mandated labeled parts to those that aren't. Some of the most popular vehicle parts or valuable items stolen from vehicles include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses.

The Topic

Protect Your Ride

There are numerous antitheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover. Here are how some of them work:

  • Audible and Visible Devices: These devices, such as a horn alarm, deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle. Visible devices create a visual threat/warning/deterrence, such as the use of steering-wheel locks, as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights, and window etching.
  • Immobilizing-Type Devices: These prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.
  • Vehicle Recovery Systems: These devices use electronic transmission technology that help law enforcement reveal the location of stolen vehicles—and possibly catch the thief in the act.
The Topic

Where's My Ride?

If you are a victim of vehicle theft, follow these steps:

  • Contact police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You will need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may also be asked to provide the following information:
    • License plate number;
    • Make, model, and color of your vehicle; and
    • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and any identifying characteristics.
  • Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of your vehicle being stolen.
  • If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.
NHTSA In Action

NHTSA is dedicated to promoting safe behaviors on our nation’s roads

For more than 25 years, NHTSA has set the standard to help vehicle owners address vehicle theft issues by continuously implementing and enforcing antitheft regulations. NHTSA regulations require vehicle manufacturers to label major vehicle component and replacement parts so authorities can better attempt to trace and recover stolen parts, and also encourages manufacturers to install passive anti-theft devices, like immobilizer systems, as standard equipment on their vehicles.

As part of NHTSA’s vehicle theft prevention outreach, we work to inform vehicle owners about precautionary measures they can take to help reduce and deter the theft of their motor vehicles. By providing fact sheets, infographics, and other relevant information, we help educate consumers about the prominence of vehicle theft, identify high-theft areas by state, and give useful information about what to do and who to contact in the event a vehicle theft occurs. NHTSA also provides theft-rate data for continued consumer education and awareness about this problem. During the annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Month campaign, held every July, NHTSA highlights the potential for motor vehicle theft, preventive measures consumers should take, the importance of addressing the vehicle theft problem, and its significant economic impact.

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