The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has deemed the month of July as National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. While the NHTSA’s campaign targets the consumer, there are essential statistics all fleets need to keep in mind.
Just the facts…
According to the NHTSA, a vehicle is stolen every 43.8 seconds in the US. Throughout July, the government agency took action to highlight the potential for MVT (motor vehicle theft) to the public and offer advice on preventative measures vehicle owners can take. The agency also spotlighted the economic impact of MVT, hoping to emphasize how important addressing this problem is.
The FBI states, there were an estimated 721,885 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2019, a rate of 219.9 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants. No surprise, things got a lot worse in 2020. Auto thefts surged in 2020, rising to 873,080 incidences, a 9.2% increase. According to the findings, every month in 2020 showed increases as compared to 2019. While the overall growth was around 9%, each month from June through December showed double-digit gains. No doubt, these numbers continue to rise as we approach the fourth quarter of 2021.
The financial losses continue to mount as well. Vehicle theft costs us a lot, more than $6 billion was lost nationwide, with the average dollar loss per vehicle being a whopping $8,886. If you have a fleet of vehicles you manage for your business, these losses can be catastrophic.
Several factors contribute to the surge, including disruptions in the supply chain that affect new car manufacturers and the economic stressors the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us. Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator, says, “Vehicle theft is driven by money and greed, a dangerous business that victimizes everyone, but fortunately, drivers can take precautions to reduce the risk.“
No easy targets
Crystal Clark, a spokesperson for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, warns, “The overwhelming majority of vehicle thefts and burglaries are a result of unlocked vehicle doors.” It seems easy, right? It is. Car thefts are more likely to happen when they are easy to steal. Lock your doors, roll up windows, do not leave valuables, and park in well-lit areas.
The last time you heard a car alarm, did you think there was a theft in progress? Me either. However, police say that visible security devices will prevent most thefts. Things like a steering wheel lock or the little red light of a car alarm do more to deter thieves than we might think. These visual deterrents make the idea of stealing an extra step harder, and statistics show most thieves will move on. Furthermore, many insurance companies are now giving discounts for drivers that use an anti-theft device.
Lights, camera, NO ACTION!
Motion-activated floodlights outside your house are also a strong deterrent against theft. Thieves will most likely leave when in the spotlight for fear of being exposed. Cameras are also effective in preventing theft if it’s visible. However, even if a thief does take your vehicle, good footage can help you recover your vehicle sooner.
Do you know where your vehicles are?
While GPS tracking devices don’t always prevent theft, they certainly help you recover stolen property quickly. One of our customers, Specialty Doors and Automation, discovered this recently. When one of their work trucks vanished from a job site, Specialty Doors used their FieldLogix GPS vehicle trackers to locate their vehicle in minutes. Edye, President at Specialty, said, “Thanks to our GPS, we retrieved a stolen vehicle within 30 minutes of the theft. They did manage to get some tools off the truck, but we showed up during the process and got the truck and materials back!!! Thank you!”
A small amount of risk, BIG savings
Most insurance providers will offer a discount to individuals and fleets who regularly practice these preventative measures. All fleets have rolling liabilities operating on the roads at all times. Without any form of accountability or control, you are at high risk for theft. It only makes sense to prevent losses and protect your fleet.
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