Vehicle theft has soared in the United States in recent years. In 2022, vehicle thefts surpassed 1,000,000—a 25% increase from previous years. This equates to roughly one vehicle stolen every 32 seconds in the United States.
To help drivers keep their vehicles safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has marked July as National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. NHTSA hopes to increase awareness of the stolen vehicle epidemic during this event, as summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft.
According to NHTSA, vehicle theft cost vehicle owners more than $8 billion in 2022.
How to Protect Your Vehicle
Several different types of antitheft systems and devices are designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal as well as easier to trace and recover. Here’s how some of them work:
- Audible and visible devices—Car alarms can deter theft because they call attention to a vehicle should someone try to enter it without a key. Likewise, steering wheel locks and theft-deterrent decals warn a would-be thief to stay away.
- Immobilizing-type devices—This antitheft system makes it nearly impossible for thieves to hot-wire your vehicle.
- Vehicle recovery systems—If your vehicle is stolen and has a vehicle recovery system, law enforcement may be able to tap into it and locate your vehicle.
Additionally, most vehicle thefts are due to simple driver errors, such as leaving the keys in the vehicle. Don’t become a statistic—protect your vehicle and belongings with these safety tips:
- Always take your keys with you, close your windows, lock the doors and park in well-lit areas.
- Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen. Additionally, avoid leaving the area while your vehicle is running.
In the unfortunate event that your vehicle is stolen, there are a couple of steps you need to take to respond properly:
- Contact the police immediately to file a stolen vehicle report. You’ll need a copy of the police report or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may be asked to provide your license plate number; the make, model and color of your vehicle; your vehicle identification number (VIN); and any identifying characteristics of the vehicle.
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim no more than 24 hours after discovering your vehicle was stolen.