What are Some of the Economic Costs of Vehicle Theft?

What is Vehicle Theft?

Vehicle theft is the crime of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle such as an automobile, truck, bus, or motorcycle. This type of crime includes both stealing from and stealing of a vehicle. It is important to note that this category of theft does not include carjacking/joyriding, theft with access to keys, fraudulent theft, or opportunistic theft.

In 2020, more than three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States and this type of crime cost vehicle owners more than $7 billion. It is also known that passenger cars made up more than 74% of all stolen motor vehicles and that summers are the worst season for vehicle theft.

To prevent it, NHTSA encourages drivers to use common sense when parking and exiting their vehicles by taking the key with them, closing and locking all windows and doors, parking in well-lit areas, and never leaving valuable items in the car.

In Colorado, motor vehicle theft is treated as a low level crime and is having an increasing impact on the state. Property crimes such as motor vehicle theft are not victimless as in every instance of motor vehicle theft, an individual or family suffers serious economic harm. To reduce the cost of motor vehicle theft, Colorado should prioritize property crime and penalize it accordingly.

What are the Different Types of Vehicle Theft?

1. Unauthorized Taking of a Vehicle

Unauthorized taking of a vehicle is a type of theft that involves the taking of a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission or knowledge. This type of theft is also known as motor vehicle theft, and it can involve the theft of an automobile, truck, bus, motorcycle, or any other type of motor vehicle. Motor vehicle theft can be classified into two main categories: theft of and from vehicles.

Theft of a vehicle involves the taking of a vehicle without the owner’s knowledge or permission. This type of theft often involves the breaking of a window or other forced entry into the vehicle. Theft from a vehicle involves the taking of items that are inside the vehicle, such as valuables, electronics, or other personal items. This type of theft is often an opportunistic crime, and can be easily prevented by taking measures to secure a vehicle and its contents.

Other forms of unauthorized taking of a vehicle include carjacking/joyriding, theft with access to keys, fraudulent theft, and opportunistic theft. Carjacking/joyriding involves the taking of a vehicle with the intent of using it for an extended amount of time, usually with the intent of committing other crimes. Theft with access to keys involves the taking of a vehicle with the intent of using it for a short amount of time, usually with the help of a stolen key or duplicate key. Fraudulent theft involves the use of deception to take a vehicle, such as creating a fake identity or using a stolen credit card. Opportunistic theft involves the taking of a vehicle that has been left unlocked or unsecured.

2. Carjacking

Carjacking is a form of vehicle theft involving violence or threat against the owner of the vehicle in public, in order to take the car keys and the vehicle. It is a group activity, in which the victim is overpowered by multiple perpetrators and forced to issue car key and car. The violence used in car jacking ranges from threat with firearms and knifes to physical violence, such as beating and punches in the face, kicking or pushing with force from the car.

The social impact of carjacking may be compared with the impact of raid and robbery, leading to psychological distress, such as fear, anger and depression. The risk of psychological distress and their social consequences increases with the level of violence encountered by the victims.

Carjacking is a serious crime with many characteristics, such as:

  • Use of violence or threat against the owner of the vehicle in public, in order to take the car keys and the vehicle
  • Group activity, in which the victim is overpowered by multiple perpetrators
  • Range of violence used, from threat with firearms and knifes to physical violence
  • Psychological distress and social consequences related to the level of violence
  • Risk of serious injury or death to victims who attempt to resist
  • Car thieves have no regard for public safety and the rules of the road
  • Stolen cars may be used for transportation, sold overseas, or dismantled for parts.

3. Hot-Wiring

Hot-wiring is the act of bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system to gain access to the engine and start the car. It is a common form of car theft and has been used for many years. Generally, it involves connecting two wires to the ignition switch and then attaching a jumper wire to the two wires in order to bypass the starter solenoid. There are two main types of hot-wiring: basic hot-wiring and smart hot-wiring.

Basic hot-wiring involves the use of tools such as a screwdriver, pliers, and a jumper wire. The thief uses these tools to bypass the ignition switch and then connects the jumper wire to the two wires in order to bypass the starter solenoid. This type of hot-wiring requires the thief to have some knowledge of the vehicle and its ignition system.

Smart hot-wiring involves the use of computers or electronic equipment to bypass a vehicle’s ignition system. This type of hot-wiring is more difficult, since it requires the thief to have a greater knowledge of the vehicle’s specific make and model. Smart hot-wiring methods may include using a computer to reprogram the ignition system, or the use of electronic devices to bypass the starter solenoid.

Other types of hot-wiring include swapping vehicle identification numbers, using smart keys for access instead of hot-wiring, and securing auto loans under false identities.

4. joyriding

Joyriding is the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. It can involve stealing the vehicle for a short period of time, or taking a vehicle without the owner’s permission with the intention of returning it. There are several different types of vehicle theft, including carjacking, theft with access to keys, fraudulent theft, and opportunistic theft.

Carjacking occurs when a person forcefully takes a vehicle from its owner or driver, usually at gunpoint. Theft with access to keys involves stealing an unlocked vehicle with the owner’s keys or using a duplicate set of keys. Fraudulent theft occurs when an individual uses false documentation or other fraudulent means to gain access to a vehicle. Opportunistic theft occurs when a person takes advantage of an opportunity to steal a car; for example, if they find a vehicle with its keys left in the ignition.

5. Theft of Parts

Theft of vehicle parts is a distinct form of motor vehicle theft, and is different from other types of vehicle theft. This type of theft involves the taking of specific parts of a vehicle, either to resell them or to use them in another vehicle. Commonly stolen parts include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses. It is different from other forms of theft such as carjacking/joyriding, theft with access to keys, fraudulent theft, or opportunistic theft, as it requires the actual removal of a part from the vehicle.

Theft of vehicle parts is considered to be a more serious form of motor vehicle theft due to the significant economic harm that it can cause to vehicle owners. The stolen parts can often be costly to replace, and the inconvenience of having to do so can be significant. Furthermore, stolen parts can be used to commit additional crimes, making this form of theft more dangerous. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary measures to prevent theft of parts, such as parking in well-lit areas and not leaving valuables in the vehicle.

6. Theft of Services

Theft of services is a crime in which someone takes or uses a service or product without permission or payment. It can involve any type of service, such as electricity, telecommunications, transportation, internet access, and more. There are different types of theft of services, including unauthorized use of utilities, services or services without payment, and theft of service contracts.

Unauthorized use of utilities involves taking advantage of someone else’s utility service, such as electricity or water, without paying for it. This can include bypassing a meter, tampering with a meter, or using a service without paying for it.

Services without payment refers to taking advantage of a service without paying for it. This can involve using a service without paying or using a service without authorization. For example, someone might take an Uber ride without paying.

Theft of service contracts refers to misusing or appropriating a service contract without permission. For example, someone might pay for a contract without actually using the service or they might use a service without actually paying for the contract.

Motor vehicle theft is another type of theft of services. In this type of crime, someone steals a car or other motorized vehicle without the owner’s permission or knowledge. This can include bypassing vehicle locks, hot wiring a vehicle, or stealing a car and then selling it. Colorado’s criminal justice system treats motor vehicle theft as a “low level” crime, however, it can have serious economic and physical consequences for victims.

7. Motor Vehicle Thefts

Motor vehicle thefts are the illegal taking or taking away of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. They range from joy riding or stealing for parts to stealing to facilitate other crimes such as drug trafficking or robberies. The means of theft can vary, from hot wiring, to stealing keys, to breaking into the vehicle. Motor vehicle thefts have been rising in frequency in many parts of the US, particularly in Colorado.

Characteristics of motor vehicle thefts include the type of vehicle stolen, the location of the theft, the type of secondary offense associated with the theft, and the impact the theft has on victims. The most frequently stolen vehicles in 2021 are the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Ford F150, Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, GMC Sierra, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, and Toyota Corolla. In 2020, the top 10 states with the most motor vehicle thefts were California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina. In 2021, the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas by motor vehicle theft rate were Albuquerque, NM; Spokane, WA; Bakersfield, CA; San Francisco, CA; Pueblo, CO; Tulsa, OK; Anchorage, AK; Stockton-Lodi, CA; Modesto, CA; and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA. The most common secondary offenses related to motor vehicle theft are property crimes, followed by drug crimes, and violent crimes. Victims of motor vehicle theft suffer economic harm, emotional distress and time consuming inconvenience, as insurance rarely covers the full cost of replacement.

8. Motorcycle Thefts

Motorcycle theft can be divided into four main categories: theft for profit, joyriding, theft for parts, and theft for other reasons.

Theft for profit involves stealing a motorcycle for the purpose of reselling it for a profit. This is the most common type of motorcycle theft, accounting for a large percentage of all motorcycle thefts in the United States.

Joyriding involves taking a motorcycle for a joyride and then abandoning it. This type of theft is often associated with younger offenders and is often seen as a way to obtain a quick thrill.

Theft for parts involves stealing a motorcycle in order to dismantle it and sell it for parts. This type of theft is often carried out by professional criminals and can be particularly lucrative.

Theft for other reasons, such as to commit a crime or to avoid paying for transportation, also occurs. This type of theft is often associated with older offenders and is often seen as a way to avoid paying for transportation.

9. Hail Damage

Hail damage theft is a type of auto theft where criminals will target cars damaged by hail storms and steal the car for parts or to resell it. This type of theft is usually done in areas where hail storms have caused severe damage to vehicles, making them easier to steal and harder to trace. Unlike other forms of auto theft, hail damage theft does not involve using force to break into a car or taking the vehicle from its owner. Instead, it involves removing hail-damaged cars from car lots or other areas where hail has caused extensive damage and then taking off with them. It is also distinct from other forms of auto theft because the stolen cars are typically inoperable due to the damage caused by the storm. Additionally, the parts stolen from hail-damaged cars are often more valuable than those taken from undamaged cars due to their rarity.

10. Insurance Claims for Thefts

Insurance companies play a role in the prevalence of vehicle thefts, as the cost of comprehensive coverage is partly influenced by the local auto theft rate. High auto theft rates can drive up premiums for policyholders in the area. On the other hand, if the rate of vehicle thefts decreases, insurance companies are able to offer lower premiums to their customers. This can act as an incentive for car owners to be more vigilant in guarding against theft. If people feel they have a financial incentive to protect their vehicles, they are more likely to take the appropriate measures to secure their vehicles. Additionally, the presence of a comprehensive auto insurance policy can give the victim financial recourse to cover any losses they may incur if their vehicle is stolen.

Turnart Steering Wheel Lock

Steering Wheel Lock

Turnart Steering Wheel Lock

  • Adaptable and Secure: adjustable to fit any car with an inner diameter of the steering wheel between 6.6-12.5 inches
  • Keys Cannot be Duplicated: each lock has its own unique key, making it impossible for others who bought the same product to get into your car
  • Special Design: high-quality steel that never rusts, the felt pads that stick to the metal “U” won’t damage the steering wheel
  • Easy to Use: lock or unlock it within 5 seconds, saving you valuable time and ensuring your car’s security
  • What You Get: steering wheel lock, 3 keys, a protective cap, blue fixing Velcro, 2 inner layer pads, a worry-free 12-month warranty, and friendly customer service

TOTOMO GPS Tracking Anti-Theft Sticker (8 Pack)

Anti-Theft Stickers

TOTOMO GPS Tracking Anti-Theft Sticker (8 Pack)

  • Multipack: set of 8 stickers, 4 front adhesive and 4 back adhesive
  • Noticeable as Deterrents: bold and eye-catching design deters theft
  • Weather-Resistant: made from durable and weather-resistant materials
  • Self-Adhesive: easy installation without special tools
  • Security: prominently displays “GPS Tracking” for added security
  • Cost-Efficient: affordable and effective way to protect your vehicle from theft

Tevlaphee Universal Steering Wheel Brake Lock

Steering Wheel Lock

Tevlaphee Universal Steering Wheel Brake Lock

  • High Quality: anti-theft device made of high-quality aluminum alloy and steel
  • Special Design: double lock cylinder increases strength and provides a lower aperture ratio
  • Universal and Adjustable: three-section telescopic hydraulic brake lock can be compressed according to the height of the steering wheel brake/pedal/clutch
  • Easy to Use: can easily lock car’s steering wheel and clutch with the key
  • Superior Customer Service: each car lock set includes 1 lock unit, 3 keys, and 2 adhesive tapes

GPS Tracking Anti-Theft Stickers (2 Pack)

Anti-Theft Stickers

GPS Tracking Anti-Theft Stickers (2 Pack)

  • Stop Lazy Criminals: GPS tracker stickers make your valuables less appealing to thieves, providing peace of mind.
  • Small But Noticeable: These 2″ x 4″ tracker decals are unintrusive but still noticeable as an effective deterrent to theft.
  • Sturdy Material: The alarm stickers are printed onto 3M vinyl using state-of-the-art printing technology, ensuring their durability.
  • First Line of Defense: These warning system stickers offer a first line of defense against lazy criminals looking for an easy target, perfect for use with bike tracker anti-theft systems.
  • Perfect Bike Stickers: These low-profile decals not only serve as GPS tracking stickers for car theft safety, but also make great trek bicycle decals.

Tevlaphee Steering Seat Belt Wheel Lock

Steering Wheel Lock

Tevlaphee Steering Seat Belt Wheel Lock

  • Keep Your Vehicle Safe: steering wheel lock secures your steering wheel, making it difficult for thieves to turn the steering wheel and use the seat belt
  • Strong Braided Steel & PVC Coating: made of high-strength braided steel wire that is 5mm thicker than others, providing greater strength and flexibility
  • Universal Use in Most Vehicles: steel cable of the car steering wheel lock is long enough to adjust and lock the steering wheel and car seat tightly
  • Easy to Get Car Security: designed with a steering wheel and seat belt connection that can be installed in seconds
  • Get Your Money’s Worth: car security anti-theft products come with a one-year warranty

How Much Does Vehicle Theft Cost?

Vehicle theft is a significant problem in society and can cause large economic losses. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program estimated that in 2022, the total value of stolen vehicles was between $468.1M and $848.3M, an increase over 2021. With a recovery rate of only 56%, the estimated loss from vehicle theft is around $8,886 per theft. This is a significant figure and considering that only 16% of the costs are attributable to preventive measures, it is clear that vehicle theft is a costly crime.

In Colorado, 85.6% of stolen motor vehicles are valued at $24,999 or less, with the largest share of stolen vehicles valued between $15,000 and $24,999. Security measures can help reduce the costs of vehicle theft, but can also be expensive. Therefore, it is important to understand the economic costs of vehicle theft in order to come up with appropriate solutions.

Ways to Prevent Vehicle Theft

1. Install a Car Alarm System

Installing a car alarm system can help deter would-be thieves by creating an audible and visible warning system. It is also possible to purchase additional tools like kill switches, which can automatically activate when the car is left unattended or the key is removed from the ignition. This can prevent car thieves from hot-wiring the vehicle and starting the engine. Additionally, car alarms can be equipped with GPS devices to help law enforcement locate the stolen vehicle for recovery.

2. Install a Steering-Wheel Lock

Installing a steering-wheel lock is one of the most effective ways to prevent vehicle theft. When the steering wheel lock is engaged, it prevents the wheel from turning, making it difficult for a thief to start the vehicle without the key. In addition, it serves as a visible deterrent, letting potential thieves know that the vehicle is protected. It also makes it harder for criminals to access the engine or other parts of the vehicle, which can help to further prevent theft.

3. Use an Anti-Theft Device for the Wheels

Using an anti-theft device for wheels can help prevent vehicle theft by preventing the wheels from moving when the vehicle is not in use. This makes it difficult for a thief to steal the vehicle as they will not be able to move it. This is especially effective in preventing theft of luxury vehicles, as thieves often target these for their high value. In addition, anti-theft devices for wheels can also act as a visible deterrent, as potential thieves may be discouraged from attempting to steal a vehicle with a wheel lock in place.

4. Install an Immobilizer System in the Car

Installing an immobilizer system in a car can significantly reduce the risk of vehicle theft. An immobilizer system works by disabling the vehicle’s ignition system so that a thief cannot bypass it and hot-wire the car. This system prevents access to the engine and makes it difficult for a thief to drive away with the vehicle. Additionally, some immobilizer systems include computer chips in the car keys that make it even more difficult to gain access to the vehicle. An immobilizer system can also be paired with a GPS device, allowing law enforcement to easily track and recover a stolen vehicle.

5. Install a Surveillance Camera at Home

Installing a surveillance camera at home can help reduce the risk of vehicle theft by increasing the visible presence of surveillance and deterrence. Surveillance cameras can act as a visible deterrent to would-be thieves, who are more likely to target an area without surveillance. Additionally, the video footage captured by the camera can be used to identify the perpetrator and aid in the investigation of the crime. The presence of the surveillance camera may also lower the chances of a vehicle being selected as a target, as criminals are less likely to steal a car if they have the knowledge that their actions are being monitored.

6. Install an Anti-Theft Device on Your Car’s Exterior

Installing an anti-theft device on a car’s exterior can help to prevent vehicle theft by deterring thieves and making it more difficult to access the vehicle or its parts. Steering wheel locks, tire and rim locks, hood locks, and GPS devices are all examples of exterior anti-theft devices. These devices help to make it harder for criminals to hot-wire the car, steal parts, or otherwise gain access to the vehicle. Additionally, audible and visible devices, such as alarms and theft deterrent decals, can help to draw attention to an attempted theft and deter potential criminals. Immobilizing-type devices, such as computer chip ignition systems, can prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition system and starting the car. Vehicle recovery systems with electronic transmission technology can help law enforcement to locate a stolen vehicle more easily. Finally, NHTSA regulations require vehicle manufacturers to label major vehicle components and replacement parts to make it easier to track and recover stolen parts, and to install passive anti-theft devices, such as immobilizer systems, as standard equipment on their vehicles.

7. Always Lock Your Car When Leaving It

It is extremely important to lock your car when leaving it, as automobile theft is a serious problem that affects millions of people each year. Vehicle thefts can cost vehicle owners more than $7 billion annually and lead to dangerous situations when the car is in the hands of the thief. In the US, a car is stolen every 39 seconds and in Canada, it is stolen every 6 minutes.

Having a good security hygiene is key for preventing auto theft. Locking your car when you are away is the most basic security measure you can take, as it prevents thieves from gaining access to your vehicle. Other measures that can be taken include using a steering wheel lock, a tire and rim lock, a hood lock, and a GPS device.

Auto theft can be a frightening experience, but it can be prevented by taking the proper security measures. Locking your car is an essential step in keeping it safe from thieves and ensuring that your vehicle is not used in any illegal activities.

8. Install an Internal Car Alarm

Installing an internal car alarm can help deter car theft by providing audible and visible warnings in the case of an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter the vehicle. The alarm can also be fitted with immobilizing devices that prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition system, as well as GPS tracking devices which can help law enforcement find the vehicle if it is stolen. Additionally, car alarms are equipped with key remotes that can be used to remotely start and stop the vehicle.

9. Keep Your Keys Safe and Secure

  1. Always take your vehicle’s key with you when you leave the vehicle. Do not leave it in the car or on the seat.
  2. Make a habit of double-checking that you’ve locked the doors and windows when you leave your vehicle.
  3. Invest in a steering wheel lock, tire and rim lock, and a hood lock to prevent movement when you’re away.
  4. Consider using a GPS device so you can track your vehicle if it is stolen.
  5. Install an alarm system with a key remote starter.
  6. Install a killswitch so your engine cannot be started without the right key.
  7. Store your keys in a secure place when you’re not using them. Consider using a secure lockbox or safe.
  8. Never leave your car key in an easily accessible place, such as under a doormat or in a wallet.
  9. Avoid leaving your car unattended for extended periods of time, if possible.
  10. Never give your spare key to someone you don’t trust.

10. Install a Theft-Deterrent Decal on Your Car

Installing a theft-deterrent decal can help deter vehicle theft by providing a visible warning to potential thieves that the vehicle is protected. These decals create a visual threat which can act as a deterrent and make thieves think twice before attempting to break into the vehicle. Additionally, the decal may also alert passersby to report suspicious activity to the police, aiding in the prevention of vehicle theft.


What is the rate of vehicle theft in the US?

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) Hot Spots Report, the rate of vehicle theft in the U.S. is 932,329 vehicles reported stolen to law enforcement in 2021, a 6% increase over 2020 and a 17% increase since 2019. Colorado led the nation in 2021 with the highest overall theft rate at 661.21 thefts per 100,000 people, up from 502.12 in 2020 an increase of 32%. California had the most vehicles stolen, with 200,524 reported in 2021. The FBI estimates that the number of motor vehicle thefts decreased 4.0 percent in 2019, with an average dollar loss per vehicle of $8,886.

What are some of the economic costs associated with vehicle theft?

The economic costs associated with vehicle theft can include direct costs, such as the value of the stolen vehicles (±45%), physical and emotional impact on victims (±15%), costs in anticipation of vehicle theft (e.g. anti-vehicle theft measures and insurance administration, approximately 16%), and costs of property recovered (±10%). Secondary economic effects on society-at-large can include opportunity costs due to administrative activities, police and public services, as well as minor effects on the vehicle market (increased demand for new vehicles and more supply of second-hand vehicles). Furthermore, there can also be negative effects on neighbourhood perception of security due to broken glass from theft. Finally, investments are necessary in time and money for security measures, which can be quite significant compared to other types of property crime.

What are some of the measures to prevent vehicle theft?

Step 1: Secure Vehicle Components and Parts: Ensure that major vehicle components and parts are labeled, as required by NHTSA regulations, to make them easier to trace and recover if stolen. Locking steering wheels, tire and rim locks, and hood locks can also be used to prevent thieves from gaining access to the vehicle.

Step 2: Install Passive Anti-Theft Devices: Talk to your car manufacturer or car accessories company to find out what passive anti-theft devices they can provide, such as immobilizer systems. These systems can help prevent your vehicle from being stolen, as well as make it easier for law enforcement to trace and recover it.

Step 3: Install GPS Devices: GPS devices can help you track your vehicle if it is stolen. They can also help law enforcement find and recover the vehicle in a timely manner, so it’s important to make sure your GPS device is up-to-date and working properly.

Step 4: Educate Yourself and Others About Vehicle Theft: Learn more about the prevalence of vehicle theft and preventive measures you can take. NHTSA provides fact sheets and infographics to help educate consumers about the importance of preventing vehicle theft. During Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, NHTSA also provides theft-rate data and other useful information.

Step 5: Increase Surveillance and Security Measures: Urban planners can help prevent vehicle theft by placing more emphasis on access control, directing traffic flows, ensuring good conditions for surveillance, and providing monitored parking facilities instead of unmonitored parking lots. Better law enforcement tactics, such as the use of “bait cars” or license plate readers, can also help reduce car thefts.

What type of insurance covers vehicle theft?

Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers vehicle theft. It is part of a full-coverage auto policy that insures against theft or damage to an automobile for reasons other than a collision. Comprehensive coverage typically covers the theft of a vehicle, as well as the cost of repairs, such as broken windows, locks, or ignition, though it does not cover the items inside the vehicle. Homeowners, renters, or condo insurance will likely cover any personal belongings in the vehicle, and filing claims for both car and home insurance may be necessary. Vehicle theft rates play a role in determining the cost of comprehensive coverage and policyholders should exercise caution when it comes to theft prevention.

What is the average cost of a stolen vehicle?

The average cost of a stolen vehicle is $8,886, according to the latest tally from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This figure is based on the average loss per theft of $8,886, which accounts for $6.4 billion in losses annually. In 2022, the estimated total value of vehicles stolen is between $468.1M and $848.3M.

What are some of the warning signs of a potential vehicle theft?

Warning signs of potential vehicle theft may include:

  • Vehicles parked in the same location for an extended period of time
  • Valuables in plain sight in or around the vehicle
  • Vehicles parked in poorly lit or isolated areas
  • Unlocked doors or windows, even when the vehicle is parked
  • Missing or damaged vehicle parts
  • Suspicious activity around a parked car
  • Someone lurking near a parked car
  • Unattended keys left in the car or nearby
  • Vehicles parked in areas frequented by known criminals
  • Vehicles left running when unattended
  • Keyless entry systems easily accessible or visible to potential thieves.

What are some of the penalties for vehicle theft?

Penalties for vehicle theft vary depending on jurisdiction, but generally the value of the vehicle stolen determines the severity of the penalty. In Colorado, aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree (a class 4 felony) is punishable by a fine not more than $500,000, or imprisonment in the state prison for a period of four to twelve years, or both. Aggravated motor vehicle theft in the second degree (a class 5 felony) is punishable by a fine not more than $100,000, or imprisonment in the state prison for a period of two to six years, or both. On July 11, 2022, the City of Aurora passed new mandatory jail time minimums for people convicted of stealing cars. A first-time offender faces a mandatory minimum 60-day jail sentence, and a “repeat offender” faces a mandatory minimum 120-day jail sentence. Those who fail to appear in court for their motor vehicle theft charge face a mandatory 10 days in jail. Additionally, fines paid by defendants will be used to pay victims to retrieve their cars from impound lots. Furthermore, tougher penalties have been implemented for stealing essential vehicle parts, including a fine of up to $2,650 or imprisonment for up to 364 days, or both. In addition to the fines and jail time, those convicted of motor vehicle theft are liable for the cost of the stolen vehicle, which is estimated at an average of $8,886 per theft, with approximately $6.4 billion in losses annually.

How does the current downturn affect vehicle theft?

The current economic downturn has had a direct impact on the increase in vehicle theft. Statistics show that when economic factors impact the job market and lead to higher unemployment rates, criminal activities such as car theft and car burglaries tend to rise. This has been confirmed by the FBI data report which revealed that the vehicle theft rate increased by 1.4% in the USA between 2001 and 2002, and 23% between 1983 and 1987. The pandemic and its effects on the economy could also be a contributing factor to the recent surge in car thefts. With the loss of juvenile outreach programs and public safety budgetary and resource limitations, thieves are taking advantage of the opportunity to find vehicles that are not properly secured. As a result, consumers could be faced with higher insurance rates due to increased auto theft rates. CarLock provides advanced car security features and can help in these times of uncertainty.

How do car thieves operate?

Step 1: Car thieves will typically target areas where they can flee quickly and easily. This may include areas with poor access and few escape routes.

Step 2: Thieves may use various methods to gain access to a vehicle, including swapping vehicle identification numbers, and using smart keys or hot-wiring.

Step 3: Once the vehicle has been stolen, the thief may attempt to hide the car or sell it quickly.

Step 4: In order to remain undetected, the thief may change the license plates or use a GPS tracking device to avoid being detected.

Step 5: Car thieves may also attempt to secure auto loans under false identities in order to more easily steal high-value cars.

Step 6: Car thieves may also use audible and visible devices, such as alarm horns and steering-wheel locks, in order to deter theft attempts.

Step 7: Immobilizing-type devices may also be used in order to prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle.

What are some of the technologies used to prevent vehicle theft?

Technologies that are used to prevent vehicle theft include steering wheel locks, tire and rim locks, hood locks, GPS devices, audible and visible devices, immobilizing-type devices, vehicle recovery systems, access control to parkings, directing traffic flows to minimize passing traffic, surveillance conditions, fast reaction of intervention forces, monitored parking garages, car ports or garages, bait cars with GPS tracking, remote engine-kill switches and video surveillance, license-plate readers, and NHTSA regulations requiring vehicle manufacturers to label major vehicle component and replacement parts.