Home » Vehicle Thefts on Track to Break Record

Vehicle Thefts on Track to Break Record

Posted by Matthew Clark on Dec 15, 2023

The good news is that catalytic converter theft has slowed down. The bad news is that vehicle theft has picked up. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tells FOX5 that violent crime is falling but property crime including vehicle thefts has jumped by more than 10%.

Recently, we published an article about vehicle thefts on the rise in 2023. Since the publication of the article, the theft numbers have become grimmer. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) — a nonprofit association that focuses on combating and preventing insurance crime — indicates that almost half a million vehicles were reported stolen in the first half of 2023.

When compared to the same time in 2022, that’s more than a 2% increase. With 1,037,401 vehicle thefts reported to law enforcement, the year 2022 broke a record. Now 2023 is on track to surpass that.

“Vehicle thefts increased to near-record highs in the United States last year, and unfortunately, current trends indicate total thefts this year may surpass 2022,” said NICB President and CEO David J. Glawe. “With little deterrent to stop these criminal actors, law enforcement agencies and communities will continue to suffer.”

Unfortunately, some areas are impacted more than others. A few states saw their vehicle theft reporting drop while a few experienced much higher numbers. In 2023, Illinois has had a huge increase of theft by 38% over 2022. Right behind is New York with a 20% increase and Ohio with a 15% increase. Texas and Georgia thefts went up by 9%.

It’s possible these numbers could be higher. Some law enforcement agencies may not have entered their vehicle theft data yet for the first part of 2023. Remember this data is based on theft reported to law enforcement. Some people may not report theft due to fear their insurance rates will soar.

Vehicle theft is such a severe problem that cities like Washington, D.C. are handing out free digital tracking tags for people’s vehicles. This is one of the prongs the city is trying to counteract vehicle theft. They’ve also introduced legislation, worked to communicate with citizens, and distributed wheel-locks.

Why Are Vehicle Thefts Soaring?

There are a few reasons for the increase in vehicle theft. One is that criminals have figured out how to steal vehicles quickly without being detected. What drives them to steal is that used cars are worth a lot more than they were in the past. Some vehicles are being re-tagged and resold on used car lots.

Criminals are disassembling stolen vehicles to resell the parts. They pull out everything from airbags to rims. The reason fewer catalytic converter thefts are happening is that the price of the metals found in catalytic converters has turned to pre-pandemic levels. They’re not worth as much as they were.

Additionally, law enforcement agencies have busted huge catalytic converter rings, which also drove down the number of thefts. Investigators in Pennsylvania stopped an $8.2 million catalytic converter ring. The number of thefts dropped immediately after the arrest according to an NBC News story.

The story also reports the Justice Department took down a $545 million national crime ring that committed catalytic converter thefts. The real problem and motivation for vehicle theft is that stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes. Apparently, suspects use stolen vehicles to commit larceny as this has increased in recent years.

To fight vehicle theft, many states have enacted laws. However, it looks like the laws have mixed results. For example, NBC News states Texas passed a law that required people selling catalytic converters to provide proof of purchase and a thumbprint. It didn’t work as converter thefts soared in Texas.

NICB provides tips to deter theft. But these tips are for vehicle owners. However, businesses can share these tips to educate their employees and residents. Remind people to avoid leaving their keys or key fob in the vehicle. They should always lock the doors and roll up the windows. If possible, park the vehicle in a closed garage or in a well-lit area.

It’s best not to have any valuables in the vehicle. If thieves can see items in the vehicle, it puts the vehicle at a greater risk for theft than one that doesn’t have anything in plain sight.

What Types of Businesses Are Affected by Vehicle Thefts?

Any business that has a parking lot needs to be worried about vehicle theft. Here are some examples of businesses that need to create and enforce a security plan.

Multifamily residential communities

Apartment properties are home to many people, so the property naturally hosts many vehicles in a concentrated area. Moreover, their parking area consists of a wide variety of cars. Some thieves, especially organized crime rings, may be targeting certain makes and models of vehicles. Therefore, they often target places with a diversity of cars like multifamily residential communities.

Retail centers

Retail centers have a big challenge in protecting employees’ and customers’ vehicles. Property managers can educate their tenants on how to protect their vehicles. Educating customers will be harder, but it can be done. They can post a sign at the front of the store encouraging them to lock their vehicles and not leave valuables inside.

Shoppers and employees tend to be focused on their own tasks. They may not pay attention to their surroundings. It makes it easier for crooks to move around the parking lot unnoticed.

Automotive dealerships

Of course, one of the most vulnerable businesses is automotive dealerships. They tend to have a diversity of vehicles, new and used, across the lot. Unlike other businesses, dealerships can’t park their most prized assets inside a garage or a building.

Automotive dealerships have options for protecting their vehicles from theft. It’s crucial they investigate and implement these options. Just one incident of theft can affect their brand and reputation. Customers won’t want to shop there out of fear for their safety.

Offices and commercial buildings

Commercial properties tend to have multiple egresses and ingresses for people and vehicles. This compels crooks to target offices because they can get away quickly. Like shoppers at retail centers, employees may not pay attention to their surroundings to catch suspicious behavior.

If a commercial property has a private parking lot, it may cause employees to grow complacent about locking their vehicles and leaving their things in the vehicles.

Employees working in the office building believe they’re in a secure space and may lower their guard. They can become complacent about locking their valuables and leaving things in the car. Additionally, employees stay busy with work and may not notice suspicious behavior.

Fortunately, there are solutions to help deter vehicle theft.

How Businesses Can Help Deter Vehicle Thefts

First, it’s important to know that vehicle theft can occur day or night. Second, be aware there are more brazen thieves. They don’t have any fear. They’ve stolen vehicles right in front of the owner.

Investing in proactive security measures such as video surveillance with remote monitoring can help properties avoid paying the big price that comes with a crime occurring on the premises. They can also implement other security measures like lighting, fencing, and an access control system.

The key to effective security is to have multiple layers that include video surveillance with remote monitoring. The reason security cameras and monitoring tend to be a powerful starting point is they come with multiple layers of security. Remote video surveillance is a proactive security solution that helps deter crimes and damage. The visibility of the cameras alone could act as a deterrent.

The monitoring part of the equation can involve technology like video analytics, human monitoring operators, or both. For the most effective security, you want to invest in both. Technology like video analytics takes on the responsibility of the monotonous part of the monitoring process.

What video analytics does is have many programmed scenarios. It searches all the cameras for a match to those scenarios. For example, it can watch for people who show up on the property in the middle of the night. When someone appears on the property at 3 am, the technology can alert the human monitoring operator.

They check the monitors to determine what’s happening. If there’s an intruder on the property, the monitoring operator can use an onsite speaker to provide an audible warning. If the person does not respond or leave, then the operator can contact law enforcement.

The monitoring operator can continue to follow the suspect until the police officers arrive.

Benefits of Remote Video Surveillance Beyond Deterring Vehicle Theft

Additionally, video cameras with remote monitoring provide other benefits besides stopping crime and capturing them in recordings. Some organizations use video clips in their training. Managers can look at the camera views to see if they can improve business productivity. Video footage can also show areas with potential hazards that could be a liability if the company does not remove them. This can help  prevent expensive liability lawsuits.

With vehicle theft potentially breaking records, retail centers, offices and commercial properties, automotive dealerships, and apartment communities must take steps to protect their employees and residents.

To learn more about video surveillance with remote monitoring, check out this guide on Security Systems 101. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

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