When it comes to car theft in the
U.S., there’s good news and bad news. The good news is the FBI report saying there was a 3.3 percent decrease
in auto thefts in 2011 over the year before -- the lowest it’s been since 1967.
The bad news is that car thieves are finding new and innovative ways to get access
New anti-theft devices have made
it more difficult to gain access to late model cars, so criminals have had to
become creative. Even with older cars, the old smash and grab techniques are
becoming less popular with the criminal element. After all, if the object is to
resell a vehicle, a broken window will need to be repaired first. But if they
can obtain a key for the vehicle, bingo, they’ve hit the jackpot.
In order to get a key made,
whether it’s a computerized transponder or metal key, you have to have the key
code. If you’ve ever lost a car key and
been to a locksmith to reorder one, you know that you have to submit your car’s
vehicle identification number (VIN). The locksmith or dealership puts that info
into a computerized database and gets a key code for the replacement key. According
to new laws, they’re required to ask you for proof of ownership before they provide
you with a new one.
Car thieves have two ways of
getting keys made. One is through a
crime partner who works at a locksmith or dealership and illegally obtains the key
code. All the thief has to do is give
them the vehicle ID number. Another way
is to create fake title and registration for the car with the vehicle ID number
and have the unwitting locksmith make another key.
The National Insurance Crime
Bureau recently issued a report stating that approximately 300 car thefts occurred
in the first three months of this year using illegally obtained key codes to gain
access to vehicles. They’re investigating the transactions to track down the
thieves and any insiders who helped them.
How can you protect yourself from
this type of car theft? First and
foremost, always make sure you lock your vehicle so thieves can’t obtain your
vehicle’s ID number. Alarms and tracking
systems are also a plus. The bottom line
is to be sure you have adequate insurance for theft so you’re covered in the
event criminals get their hands on your vehicle.