But a lack of prosecution for crimes could also be fueling the trend…
A recent article run by NBC News claims the surging prices of used cars is making your personal vehicle a target for thieves. That’s not incorrect since as the rewards for boosting cars increases (i.e., money) the incentives for people to turn to that form or crime or to engage in it more often also rise. However, looking at the problem from one perspective will lead to an incomplete solution, which is why we might not see car theft rates significantly drop for some time.
Read the latest on what's happening with used car prices here.
I personally know the feeling of someone breaking into your car and stealing your property. It’s not a fun situation, even if everything is covered by your insurance policy. As an enthusiast, one of my worst fears is someone will swipe my beloved vehicle which I have spent countless hours upgrading and customizing, only to chop it up and sell the parts, ship it out of the country, or to swap out the vin plates and unload it on some poor sap. That’s a sad fate for a vehicle you feel a strong connection to.
We have no doubt the surge in car theft is connected at least in part to the pandemic, or rather how different governments handled it. Shutting things down not only turned some people mean and selfish as they lost positive outlets, it also created opportunity for those who already were predisposed to steal cars. After all, if they weren’t as busy as before, they had more time to plot and swipe other people’s vehicles. Also, so many cars were just sitting unmoved for days on end in parking lots and even on the street, making them easy targets. Thieves love cars they know nobody will be walking up to for a long time because it gives them an uninterrupted span to get inside and get the engine running.
And while the shortage of new and used cars, which in part has been triggered by the government and voluntary business shutdowns starting in 2020, has contributed to a shortage of used cars and the dramatic spike in values, even with the end of that situation hopefully in sight I seriously doubt the car theft spree will suddenly end.
Plus, this line of thinking doesn’t account for the car thieves who boost a vehicle just to go joyriding. Not everyone steals for financial gain.
You can argue all day long about which came first here: the theft or the realization prosecutors in certain areas won’t do much to car thieves, as noted in many reports, including this one from The Kansas City Star. It’s a topic which was explored by the Arizona State University Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, along with other factors, because complicated problems usually are driven by multiple variables.
Whatever the answer is, criminals in some jurisdictions have learned they’ll get a slap on the wrist for swiping other’s vehicles. Considering there’s the chance to make lucrative amounts of cash in a short period of time and there’s a relatively low risk of harsh punishment, which might even include being back on the street making big bucks in no time, and it’s not difficult to see why so many kids are stealing Hellcats, Mustangs, Mercedes, and whatever else.
While I think the NBC News article misses the mark and focuses too much on “disenfranchised youth” along with high car values and in general “the pandemic” for the rash of vehicle thefts, it does offer some solid advice for preventing thieves from taking your ride. Shockingly, this isn’t viewed as blaming the victim and for that I’m glad since we all unfortunately bear the burden of securing our rides.
The first tip is to take your cars with you when you leave the car, even if only for a brief moment. We’ve seen people leave their keys in the vehicle and make it super easy for thieves to take it without any effort. Other items like not leaving valuables inside, parking in well-lit areas, locking the doors, and using a GPS tracker are good advice. They even suggest installing an alarm and a kill switch, which might help. However, they fail to mention that if you can, parking in a secured garage at night is a good deterrent, especially if you manually lock that garage. And while putting up a surveillance camera might not stop thieves from taking your ride, it provides evidence for the police and your insurance company.
Nobody knows for sure how long this car theft crime wave is going to last. I certainly hope it’s waning, but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case. In the meantime, all enthusiasts need to remain extra vigilant since our cars can be especially attractive to thieves.
Check out the NBC News article for yourself here.