Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arizona Crime Prevention: How to prevent our vehicles from being stolen.

Yefim Toybin
October 13, 2011
Phoenix, Arizona

Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Seems like good advice, easy to follow.

Out of 100% of all crimes committed in Arizona, 91% relates to a property crime.
One of the most common types of property crimes is vehicles theft. Living in Arizona, in the state with developing public transportation system, we heavily rely on our individual means of transportation, at least to get to and from work.
Therefore, we fully realize what possible, absolutely horrible, consequences we will face if our car gets stolen.

Arizona is no longer the state with the most vehicle thefts, as was the case in 2001. There were 54,849 vehicles stolen in Arizona in 2006. In 2007 the Phoenix metro area was ranked as the city with the 8th highest rate of vehicle thefts on a per capita basis. In 2010 that number decreased dramatically to a rank of 56th with 13,566 stolen vehicles. That's quite an improvement, but it doesn't mean that we can be less than diligent about preventing our vehicles from being stolen.
Top 10 Most Commonly Stolen

Vehicles for 2009 - Arizona

1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
4. 1997 Ford F150 Pickup
5. 2003 Ford F250 Pickup
6. 1997 Chevrolet Pickup
7. 2006 Ford F350 Pickup
8. 1998 Nissan Sentra
9. 1997 Nissan Altima
10. 1991 Toyota Camry
Source: National Insurance Crime
Bureau (NICB) - Sept. 22, 2010

There are several things can be done in order to protect our vehicles. There is one program that many people don't even know about. it's called: THE WATCH YOUR CAR PROGRAM


The Watch Your Car decal program is a free, voluntary program whereby Arizona vehicle owners enroll their vehicles with the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority. The vehicle is then entered into the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) database; participants receive decals for their front and rear windows. By displaying the decals, vehicle owners convey to law enforcement officials that their vehicle is not usually driven between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM, when the majority of auto thefts occur.

In addition, by enrolling in the Watch Your Car Program, vehicle owners also authorize law enforcement officials to stop their vehicle at any time during the day or night within one mile of the border, if there is a suspicion that the vehicle is being illegally operated.
If a police officer witnesses the vehicle in operation between these hours, they have the right to stop the vehicle and verify it is being legally operated by the rightful owner.

Click here for Watch Your Car application to print, complete and mail or ENROLL ONLINE - quick, easy and no postage required!

Auto Theft Prevention Tips

The "Layered Approach" to Protection

Professional thieves can steal any car, but make them work for yours. To prevent thefts, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends "Layered Protection." The more layers of protection on your vehicle, the more difficult it is to steal.
The number of layers your vehicle needs varies depending on your vehicle and geographic location. Your budget and personal preferences should determine which anti-theft device is best for you.
Layer #1 -- Common Sense
An unlocked vehicle with a key in the ignition is an open invitation to any thief, regardless of which anti-theft device you use. The common sense approach to protection is the simplest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves.

Lock your car - half of all vehicles stolen are left unlocked

Take your keys - nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen have the keys in them

Park in well-lit areas - car thefts occur at night more than half the time

Park in attended lots - car thieves do not like witnesses

Do not leave your vehicle running and unattended

Completely close your car windows

Do not leave valuables in plain view

Do not hide a spare set of keys in the car - the pros know where to look

Park with your wheels turned toward the curb

Always use your emergency brake when parking

If you have a garage, use it - when you do, lock both the vehicle and the garage door

Layer #2 -- Warning Device

The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular second layer devices include:

Audible alarms

Steering wheel locks

Steering column locks

Brake locks

Tire locks

Watch Your Car decals

Identification markers in or on vehicle

Protective Window Laminate

Microdots applied to various surfaces on vehicle, which are imprinted with identification information.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on vehicle windows.

Layer #3 -- Immobilizing Device

This third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle.
Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity of fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated.
Popular third layer devices include:

Smart keys

High security locks & keys

Fuse cut-offs

Kill switches

Starter, ignition and fuel disablers

Layer #4 -- Tracking Device

The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to a police or monitoring station when the vehicle is reported stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.

Passive and Active Anti-Theft Systems

Passive and active anti-theft devices are the two options available when considering an anti-theft system. Passive devices automatically arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the ignition key removed, or a door is shut. No additional action is required. Active devices require some independent physical action before they are set, such as pushing a button, or placing a "lock" over a vehicle component part. This physical action must be repeated every time the anti-theft devices is set or it will not function.

While you may not be able to prevent your vehicle from being stolen, despite every precaution, you can take many of the following steps in advance. Being prepared may ultimately help law enforcement recover your vehicle more quickly and reduce your expenses.

If you discover that your vehicle has been stolen, notify law enforcement immediately. Speed is essential in recovering stolen cars; any delay in reporting only helps the thieves. Be prepared to provide the vehicle's make, model, color, license plate number, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

Keep a photocopy of your vehicle registration and insurance card in your wallet or at home. This will enable you to provide information quickly to law enforcement and your insurance claims agent.

Make your vehicle easier to identify. One way is to write your initials on an index card and drop it in the window slot, or carefully engrave your initials inside the trunk, hood, or even the dashboard near the VIN number.

Etch the VIN number on all window glass of the vehicle.

Review your insurance policy annually. Don't wait until after your vehicle is stolen to find out you don't have the coverage you think you have. Owners are advised to review their auto insurance policies once a year, including coverage you must have, coverage you'll probably need, and additional types of coverage, including roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.

Exercise caution if you see someone tampering with your car. Call 911 as quickly as possible.

Don't Purchase a Stolen Vehicle

Use Common Sense. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Don't meet the seller in an unsafe location. Meet at a permanent location of the seller and avoid situations where you can only meet the seller by pager.

Let the seller know you will not be bringing cash, but will pay by personal or cashier's check if you decide to purchase the vehicle.

Ask the seller for valid picture I.D. and compare the information to the vehicle registration and title.

Be leery of pre-signed ownership documents, or sellers who are not both the registered and legal owners. The documents may be forged, or a lender may have a lien that prevents transfer of title.

If the ownership documents are recently issued or duplicate, the vehicle may have changed hands recently or the title lost. Inquire why!

Check the ownership documents for an indication that the vehicle is a salvage and be very cautious if it is. Many salvage vehicles are rebuilt with stolen parts or are unsafe. Also be alert to these issues if any vehicle appears to have been extensively damaged or rebuilt.

Be sure all numbers match. Look at the numbers on both the Vehicle Identification Number plate and the license plate. They should be the same on both the vehicle registration and title.

Before you pay, be sure documentation is adequate to obtain registration and legal title. Check with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) first if there is any doubt.
Be Careful! Cashier's Checks and Money Orders
Are Not Always What They Appear to Be!

Local law enforcement agencies have had numerous cases where counterfeit cashiers checks and money orders are being used to commit forgeries and/or frauds when purchasing a vehicle.
Here is a scenario that will hopefully prevent you from becoming the next victim.


The victim (YOU), advertises his car for sale in the local media. The victim is contacted by a suspect over the phone who offers to buy the car for full price and asked the victim for the spelling of his name. The suspect then shows up in an expensive car with other suspects and buys the car with a counterfeit cashiers check or money order. The sale usually occurs after the banks are closed - especially on weekends.
After three days, when the suspects are long gone, the bank notifies the victim (YOU) that the cashiers check or money order is a fake and the victim is out the money AND the car. The suspect usually sells the car to an innocent third party the same day of the theft.


PS Free and valuable advices from me.
Remember: most of the vehicles are stolen at parking lots (at work, grocery stores, etc). Don't place anything in a trunk of your car (such as a purse) on a parking lot; someone could watch you do that.
Be smart, Be safe!

Sources: books, pamphlets, Internet, conferences.

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