Car theft occurs when a person breaks into and attempts to drives away in a car that is not theirs. It is considered car theft even if the person is not successful and is caught before they can get away with the car. There are several ways a car can be stolen. The thief can be a person the car owner knows or they can be a complete stranger. Car owners can protect themselves against car theft.
Car Theft Methods
One of the methods people use to steal a car is getting into an unlocked car that has the keys inside it and driving off. People may leave their car open with the keys in the ignition when they will be in a store or other location for only a few minutes. Those few minutes are all the time a car thief needs, though. It is also possible for a person the car owner knows to steal a car with the keys. The thief could be the person’s son or daughter or another family member and could simply take the keys out of a purse. Even if the car thief has permission to use the car at other times it is still considered theft if they take the car without the consent of the owner.
Some car thieves use force to steal a vehicle. The thief may break the window or force the lock open to get inside the car. Once inside, they can hot-wire the car to get it running. Another method of stealing a car by force involves towing the car. A carjacking is theft of the car while the owner is present.
Common Tools Used
Some of the tools of a car thief are common tools found in many homes while others are more specialized items. To break into a locked car, thieves may use a jimmying device such as a “Slim Jim,” a thin rod and hook that slides into the lock. The thief may use a multimeter to find and test the car’s battery and a screwdriver to hot-wire the car. A heavy item, such as a hammer or bat, can be used to smash a car’s window. Carjackers usually also have some sort of weapon on them to threaten the person they are attacking.
Car Theft Prevention
In some cases, common sense is all that is needed to prevent car theft. People shouldn’t leave their car idling and the keys in the ignition if they need to leave the car unattended, even for the shortest amount of time. It’s also a good idea to hide any valuables in a car so that thieves do not break the windows and steal them. If a person has a fancy stereo installed in the car, they should remove the face plate every time they exit the vehicle.
A car alarm that is installed properly can also deter car thieves. Car owners should get the alarm installed by a legitimate company, not a fly-by-night operation. Ideally, the alarm will send an alert to the owner’s cell phone instead of making a lot of noise when activated. Most people ignore the loud beeping of a car alarm since some are very sensitive and are triggered by the slightest noise.
People can avoid being the victims of carjacking by being cautious around anyone they do not know. One method of carjacking involves people pretending to be in an accident. When the owner pulls over to help them, the accident “victims” steal their car instead. To avoid theft and possible injury, people should only get out of their car in public areas. If they see what appears to be an accident, they should call 911 from inside of their car.
- 10 Top Ways to Steal a Car (And How to Defend Against Them) – Article from Edmunds on the 10 methods car thieves commonly use and how car owners can protect themselves.
- What To Do If Your Car Is Stolen – Advice from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles on actions to take following a car theft.
- Carjacking – Don’t Be a Victim – Tips from the State Dept. on ways to prevent carjacking. Also discusses the different methods of carjacking.
- Campus Auto Burglary Prevention Program – Advice on locking up valuables from the University of Oklahoma Police Department. Includes a list of the most commonly stolen items.
- Auto Theft Statistics – Statistics for auto theft, including a list of cities with the highest rates of car theft.
- Most Stolen Cars in the Country – Story from ABC News on the types of cars stolen the most in 2010.
- Auto Theft Myths – Three examples of commonly believed myths about car theft and safety.
- Auto Theft-Prevention Devices That Do Work – An article discussing effective theft prevention objects.