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Auto thefts are increasing: Tips to make sure you’re not a victim

thief breaking into car door

These days, vehicle thieves are becoming cleverer and more brazen and the number of vehicle thefts and break-ins are increasing. Vehicle thefts in the United States jumped 9% last year from a year earlier to 873,000, the highest number in more than a decade, according to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. But it’s not only about the thieves as theft prevention measures can be implemented by the vehicle owner in many cases. Since 2013, there has been an 88% increase in thefts due to vehicle owner carelessness. 209 cars are stolen daily when the keys or key fobs were left in the vehicle, or the car was left unlocked with the engine running. The average auto theft takes just five minutes or less, so it’s important that you pay attention to what you’re doing every minute and take steps to keep your vehicle safe.

Recent trends show that both high-performance vehicles and more common models are becoming equal targets. The most-prized vehicles are SUVs, pickups, hybrids, and any vehicle with a key fob. Many of these stolen vehicles are resold, used for parts, or are sent on shipping containers overseas as part of “steal-to-order” schemes and cannot be recovered. Additionally, catalytic converters are becoming a prized target. These auto parts cost $3,000 or more to replace and can be stolen from the undercarriage of a vehicle in under 60 seconds.

So, what can you do to protect your vehicle and prevent theft? Here are a few tips:

  • Always lock your vehicle, even while it’s on your property.
  • If you have a garage, keep your vehicle in the garage, and lock the garage as well.
  • If you are in the process of removing groceries or other items from your car, turn off the vehicle motor and take the keys. Monitor the vehicle and lock it between trips.
  • Keep your vehicle locked while you are in the car.
  • Never leave your keys or other valuables, including your vehicle title, in your car. If you absolutely must leave something of value in your car, ensure it is out of sight, ideally in the trunk.
  • Try to avoid higher crime areas. Park in a secure parking garage with valet and real-time video security, or on a well-lit, busy street.
  • Leverage your vehicle’s app and anti-theft features, including steering lock, passive alarms, ignition cut-off systems, and next-generation vehicle tracking systems. That way, if you accidentally leave your vehicle unlocked, you will receive alerts via the app.
  • Consider installing an anti-theft device on your catalytic converter.
  • Refer to your insurance policy or speak with your agent to learn more about possible anti-theft system discounts and liability and comprehensive coverage.


This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice.

Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by ACE American Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates. All products may not be available in all states. This communication contains product summaries only. Coverage is subject to the language of the policies as actually issued. Surplus lines insurance sold only through licensed surplus lines producers. Chubb, 202 Hall's Mill Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-1600.

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