Imagine the feelings of helplessness and anger you’d feel after walking out of your home, office, or a store and realizing that your car or truck has been stolen. On top of the monetary loss, there’s the inconvenience of having to arrange a ride and the sense of violation. You’ll need to report the car theft to your insurance company. You are unlikely to see that car again.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says only 17% of 76,787 motor vehicles reported stolen across the state in 2019 were recovered. An arrest was made in only about one of every 10 car thefts. In San Antonio alone, 7,781 motor vehicles were stolen in 2019, an increase from 6,089 in 2018.
In early September, a couple in the Valley High North area of San Antonio reported their truck stolen right out of their driveway, and KSAT TV says there have been four cars stolen and seven car break-ins reported in the area in the previous six months.
There are steps you can take to thwart thieves who want to steal your car or truck. At Herrman & Herrman, PLLC in San Antonio, we have compiled some tips for San Antonio car theft prevention. If we can help you in a car accident personal injury claim, call us at (361) 882-4357 to set up a free and confidential legal consultation.
Car Theft Protection Tips for San Antonio
- Lock the Doors, Close the Windows. Car thieves are opportunists. A car thief’s hope is to find an unlocked car. Closing the windows and locking your doors is the easiest way to keep thieves out of your car. Keep your trunk and glovebox locked, too. Most thieves will move on to the next vehicle as soon as they find that your car is locked.
- Do Not Leave Valuables in Sight. Car theft is about making quick money. Most thieves want to sell your car or truck, either whole or for parts. Leaving valuables in sight in your vehicle gives a thief extra incentive to put time and effort into breaking into your car. The thief may steal the valuables to pawn them and make some quick money, even if the thief doesn’t take the car.
- Park in High-Visibility or Secure Places. Don’t give car thieves an opportunity to strike. If you have a garage at home, use it for your vehicle and lock your garage doors at night. Away from home, park in well-lit parking lots, near streetlights or in attended parking lots.
- Install Anti-Theft Systems. Install an audible alarm system, if your car did not come with a factory installed anti-theft system. Use a visible anti-theft device, such as a steering wheel lock. Steering wheel locks make it harder for a thief to steal your car, which is often enough to deter a theft. You can also have a mechanic install an immobilizer system, which disables the vehicle so that a thief cannot make off with it. It may incorporate smart keys, kill switches and/or wireless ignition authentication. Another approach is to install a tracking system, which uses wireless technology to emit a signal to the police or a monitoring service indicating your vehicle’s location.
- Etch the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on Windows and Other Car Parts. Many stolen cars wind up in “chop shops,” where their parts are stripped to be sold. If a thief sees your car’s 17-digit VIN etched into its widows, they’ll know there’s no market for windows and other parts from your car because they can be immediately identified. Here, a Texas TV station looks at the ease and benefits of VIN etching.
What to Do If Your Car Is Stolen
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles says the 10 makes of cars and trucks most likely to be stolen are:
- Honda Civic
- Honda Accord
- Ford Pickup (Full Size)
- Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- Toyota Corolla
- GMC Pickup (Full Size)
- Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
- Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee.
If your car is stolen, you should:
- Immediately contact the police and file a report. Police will need:
- The year, make, model and color of the car
- License plate number
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If you do not have your VIN number readily available, contact your insurance company or auto loan lender.
- Report the theft to your insurance provider. Even if the loss is not covered, reporting the theft will protect you if your stolen vehicle is in an accident that leaves others injured.
- Contact your car loan provider if the vehicle is still being financed. Contact the title holder of a vehicle being leased.
Avoid Buying a Stolen Car
Small-time thieves may try to sell a stolen vehicle on the street. If you knowingly buy a stolen car, you can be arrested for receiving stolen property. If you buy a stolen car unknowingly, you could lose the car as well as what you’ve spent on it. You will also have trouble reselling a stolen vehicle and, thereby, will lose money on the deal.
Don’t put yourself in a bad situation:
- Be suspicious of any deal that seems “too good to be true.”
- Make sure the title and registration reflect the name and address of the person selling the vehicle.
- Be wary of a seller who has no fixed address, place of employment or phone number.
- Ask the seller about previous financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company and/or insurer.
- Ensure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the automobile’s dash is present, secure and unaltered. Check to ensure the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be the original factory numbers. If in doubt about plate authenticity, check with a new car dealer who handles the same model or contact a law enforcement agency.
- Run the VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck search service. It can help determine whether a vehicle has been reported as stolen by participating NICB member insurance companies or has been reported as a salvage vehicle.