July is National Vehicle Theft Protection Month

Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon and the Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA) are reminding motorists in Louisiana that July is National Vehicle Theft Protection Month and offering guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim.

While temperatures are rising in July, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, it is also one of the hottest months for vehicle theft in the United States. Therefore, in an effort to raise public awareness about car theft, Commissioner Donelon and LATIFPA are offering Louisiana motorists tips for vehicle crime prevention.

“The high incidence of auto theft claims in Louisiana ultimately leads to higher insurance rates, in addition to great trauma to car owners, so I urge people to protect their vehicles by following our tips for vehicle crime prevention,” said Commissioner Donelon. “While it is encouraging to see a drop in thefts over the last few years, I encourage vehicle owners to continue to take measures to lessen their chances of becoming a victim.”

The number of auto thefts in Louisiana has declined by 37 percent from 15,640 in 2006 to 9,893 in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available. Since its inception in 2004, LATIFPA has worked to reduce vehicle theft rates in Louisiana through the agency’s various education initiatives, as well as its public awareness outreach campaign which educates consumers on the importance of protecting themselves from vehicle theft.

Commissioner Donelon and LATIFPA are offering motorists the following tips for vehicle crime prevention:

Remove your keys from the ignition upon leaving the vehicle, and never leave your car’s engine running unattended, not even in your driveway or for a quick errand.

Lock all of your doors.

Close your windows completely.

Park in well-lit lots and garages that have security and/or parking lot attendants. AVOID parking near dumpsters, large vans or trucks, woods, or anything else that limits your visibility.

Never hide a second set of keys anywhere on your car. Thieves know where all of the “hiding places” are.

Don’t tempt car thieves. Keep valuables out of plain sight. Take them with you or store them in the trunk.

Don’t park in the farthest corner of the lot, but rather near the entrance of a facility to insure the most foot traffic and the most potential witnesses.

Park with the wheels turned toward the curb, even when parking in driveways and parking lots. This makes your vehicle difficult to tow.

Keep your registration and insurance information with you and never leave personal information in your car.

Always use your emergency brake when parking.

Park your vehicle in a garage, if possible, and always lock both your car and the garage.

While these tips may ward off amateurs, professional thieves may not be deterred. Consider additional layers of protection from theft, including visible and audible deterrents such as audible alarm systems, steering wheel locks and steering column collars. Immobilizers can be used to stop thieves from hot wiring your vehicle and sometimes include fuel cut-off devices, kill switches or “smart keys” with computer chips that must be present to start the vehicle. If a thief is still successful, tracking systems that emit a signal to the police or a monitoring service when the vehicle is reported stolen can result in a faster recovery of the vehicle. These are only a few of the many ideas you can use to protect your vehicle.

Commissioner Donelon says vehicle theft has become a huge business. “Car theft rings sell stolen vehicles in other countries or take them to chop shops where the parts are sold. They also look for older vehicles that can be stolen and stripped for parts.” Additionally, stolen cars are often used in robberies, illegal drug trafficking and drive-by shootings.

National Vehicle Theft Protection Month is held each July in partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the LoJack Corporation. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through information analysis, investigations, training and public awareness.

The LoJack Corporation is a worldwide provider of wireless tracking and vehicle recovery systems. The LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System is a silent tracking device hidden in your vehicle that is automatically activated when you report your car stolen to the police, enabling law enforcement to track and recover your vehicle. LoJack founded the National Vehicle Theft Protection month initiative with the National Insurance Crime Bureau in 2007 and has, more recently, partnered with the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators to promote this initiative to educate vehicle owners on how to protect their vehicles from today’s sophisticated thieves and motivate them to take the necessary steps to protect their vehicles.

The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) was formed in 1952 in order to improve communication and coordination among the growing family of professional auto theft investigators and others with a legitimate interest in auto theft investigation, prevention and education. IAATI is dedicated to developing and encouraging the highest professional standards of conduct among auto theft investigators, and strives to eliminate all factors interfering with the administration of the auto theft suppression effort.

For more information on the prevention of vehicle theft and insurance fraud, contact LATIFPA staff at 225-342-0819 or 1-800-259-5300.

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