According to the NICB, auto theft nationally skyrocketed in 2020 to more than 873,000 thefts, a 9.2 percent increase over 2019 and the most thefts seen by NICB in the past decade. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area had 18,498 vehicles stolen in 2019 according to NICBs Hot Spots most recent report. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department found there were nearly 900 vehicle thefts in Fort Lauderdale in 2020, a seven percent increase over 2019.
“As the supervisor of the street crimes division, one of the chief problems we are seeing in the Fort Lauderdale area is an increase in thefts of newer vehicles,” said Captain Glenn Galt with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. “Organized groups of people are seeking out high value vehicles and attempting to steal them. Oftentimes these groups will find vehicles unlocked with valuables left inside. Other times they are finding vehicles unlocked with keys inside. When we catch some of these thieves, they’ve told us how easy it is to find a car with the keys still inside.”
Vehicle owners must guard against complacency and remember to heed simple steps to safeguard their vehicles. NICB conducted a study that shows that in 2019, there were 84,131 vehicles stolen with their keys left inside. In 2018, 82,369 auto thefts had their keys left inside, and 78,345 in 2017 with keys left inside.
“At a national level, the pandemic has had significant impacts on society. We have a lot of disenfranchised youth that are unemployed, and outreach programs are shut down or limited due to COVID,” said David Glawe, president and CEO of the NICB. “I’ve been studying this for almost 30 years; when you have a perfect storm like this, we see that manifest in crimes against automobiles.”
The side mirrors on some newer vehicles will fold inward when the car is locked. When they are not, it’s an indicator the car is unlocked and the key fob is inside.
To take proper care of your vehicle, the NICB and the FLPD recommend a multi-layered approach:
- Common Sense — remove your keys from the ignition, lock your doors /close your windows, and park in a well-lit area.
- Warning Devices — the second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. These include alarms, steering column collars and locks, brake locks, and theft deterrent decals.
- Immobilizing Device — the 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 or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Some examples are smart keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers, and wireless ignition authentication.
- Tracking Device — the final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
REPORT FRAUD: Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422)or submitting a form on our website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through Intelligence & Analytics, Learning & Development, and Strategy, Policy, & Plans. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies, rental car agencies, auto auctions, and self-insured entities. NICB member companies wrote more than $526 billion in insurance premiums in 2019, or more than 82% of the nation’s property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($241 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.
SOURCE National Insurance Crime Bureau