Summer is prime time for auto theft.

Did you know? Nearly 40% of all auto theft incidents occur between the months of June and September. Don’t let the carefree summer days cause you to be careless with your automobile.

Auto theft affects us all. Whether you are a direct victim or not, you pay for it. The costs aren’t exclusive to just the owners of stolen vehicles.

In the state of Virginia, $86,025,726 was lost due to auto theft last year. In addition to the vehicle itself, insurance premiums are also affected. With increased insurance claim totals you can expect increased premiums because insurance companies raise their rates based on overall loss and risk.

What is auto theft?

Auto theft is the illegal act of stealing a motor vehicle. Think this is something that only occurs in movies? Think again. 11,040 offenses of motor vehicle theft were reported in Virginia last year.

Auto theft also extends to stolen vehicle parts. If your car is stolen, there is a good chance it is heading straight to a chop shop or the black market. Thieves can make big money by stripping your vehicle of its parts. More than 7,000 vehicle parts and accessories were reported stolen in 2018. Whether it is your tailgate or your state inspection sticker, thieves will profit.

How can I protect myself this summer?

Think it’s a good idea to leave your windows cracked just an inch for better ventilation on a hot summer day? Think it’s okay to leave your car running when you are going into the store for just a minute? Think again. As great as a cooled off car is, returning to a hot car is better than not returning to your car at all.

Don’t assume your car is safe because it is parked outside of your home. Did you know? Last year, the top location for motor vehicle theft was the victim's residence, for a total of 4,454 reported thefts.

Luxury cars aren’t the only vehicles at risk. As attractive as expensive cars might be, older vehicles lack the advanced technology and safety features, making them easier targets for thieves.

Some simple things you can do to protect yourself and your car are to always take your keys with you, never leave your possessions in plain sight, and always park in a well-lit, high-traffic area.

Additionally, you can invest in VIN etching, ignition disablers, audible alarms, and locks on steering wheel, brakes, or tires. All of these deterrents will help prevent you from becoming the next victim.

Click to view the 2018 Virginia Motor Vehicle Theft Annual Statistics Report.

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