Saturday, November 10, 2007

Protect Your Vehicle -- Prevent Vehicle Theft

What area of the United States has the highest rate of vehicle theft per capita? Why the Las Vegas area of course. It recently moved up to #1 National Insurance Crime Bureau's stolen vehicle hot spot top ten list, despite the fact that auto theft rates in the nation are on the decline. Every month LV Metro still handles around 1400 cases of vehicle theft. In fact, Clark County had 22,441 vehicles stolen in 2006. That's one vehicle theft for every 80 people in the County. Naturally auto insurance rates in Nevada are among the highest in the nation for this very reason. Auto theft just doesn't affect the immediate victims, it affects all Nevada residents. Auto theft rates in Las Vegas add between $200 and $400 a year to our insurance rates, according to the Nevada Insurance Council. Thegood news is, is that 80% of the vehicles stolen are recovered accordingto Metro police -- the majority being used for joy rides and for temporary transportation. Organized car theft rings only represent about a quarterof the thefts. Vehicle theft in Nevada is considered a B Felony and is punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. With this sort of penalty, why would Las Vegas have such a high rate ofthis sort of crime? There appear to be a number of factors.

1. Many parking lots and parking garages.
2. Lack of police manpower -- Not enough officers to handle this sort of crime and conduct sting
3. Hot climate -- Owners leave windows cracked and give thieves access.
4. Lack of Education -- Vehicle owners must be educated about protecting personal property.To date little has been done.

So, what can you do to protect yourself if you can't afford a locator system like Onstar or LoJack, a sophisticated alarm system, own a personal garage, or a large angry dog?

1. Buy a Steering Wheel Lock -- Use the steering wheel lock at night when thieves are most likely to be active or when your car is left unattended in lonely parking lots.
2. Understand Your Insurance Coverage -- Talk to your auto insurance agent. Ask them about your deductable in the event your car is stolen. What will you be responsible for paying in the event your car is stolen and returned damaged or with your personal property missing? Also find out if your insurance company covers car rental fees in the event you are without transportation while your car is being recovered and repaired. Ask for a discount on your insurance if you have an anti theft device.
3. Clean Out Your Car -- Make sure your car is free from any clothing, music, books, and boxes that are in plain view. Thieves often break into cars to get at your stuff. Make sure that there is nothing left in your car that you wouldn't want to lose.
4. Heed Tips and Advice -- Metro Police has a page dedicated to vehicle theft. Look it over.
5. Partner with the Police -- Register Your Vehicle for the "Watch Your Car Program" with Henderson PD and LV METRO -- your vehicle, proof of ownership (title, registration) and a list ofauthorized drivers to complete the registration to a local police station. (calling ahead is a good idea) When you register for the “Watch Your Car” program, you are allow law enforcement officials to stop your vehicle between the hours of 1:00 A.M.and 5:00 A.M. and when your vehicle is in close proximity to any border,no matter when the hours may be. In these instances, police action willinclude the necessary precautions generally taken to protect officers when approaching a potentially stolen vehicle.
6. Write Your State Representative -- If you are victim, let your representatives know. Ask them to keep you in mind the next time legislation comes up relating to vehicle theft and Nevada. To find out who your representatives are visit: