Choosing a road trip over air travel this summer may seem like a smart way to save money on the high cost of airfare. However, families who take this route may be putting themselves in a position for an even costlier risk: having their car and its parts stolen or irreparably damaged. A June 2013 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) showed an upward trend in motor vehicle theft for the first time in eight years. (https://www.nicb.org/newsroom/nicb_campaigns/hot_spots)
According to the NICB, July and August are the two most common months for motor vehicle theft. And with nearly two-thirds of Americans planning a road trip this summer according to AAA, security experts caution road travelers to take extra precautions to avoid becoming a target for thieves – thieves who are capitalizing on increased gas prices and the high street value of car parts.
“Wherever your car is parked – whether at a hotel, in a gas station parking lot, or even in your own home – you need to take precautions, especially during warmer weather,” advises Mark McClure, owner of the Signal 88 Security franchise serving Atlanta. “Leaving your windows cracked, even slightly, can be an invitation for theft.”
Signal 88 Security, Inc., a private security company with more than 100 franchise offices across more than 30 states, offers three key suggestions that can help car owners avoid being victimized during the summer months.
Step One: Identify Possible Threats “There are a variety of items that are attractive to thieves: electronics, gas, metal and even the car itself,” says McClure. “Take a look at your car and note if any of the above are easily accessible.” If you drive a high-profile vehicle, you’re especially at risk of catalytic convertor theft. In many cases, the platinum inside the part can be sold for scrap. Company fleet vehicles and other cars that are parked for extended time periods are also prime targets.
Step Two: Secure Your Vehicle Always roll up your windows and lock your doors, and activate your security alarm if you have one. If you drive an older model car, consider adding a locking gas cap to prevent siphoning. Watch for gas dripping from the bottom of your vehicle; if a hole has been drilled in the tank, there is a risk of fire should you start the car.
Whether at home or away on vacation, park in a well-lit area, and consider installing motion-sensitive lights around your residence.
Step Three: Keep a Watchful Eye If you will be out of town and your car will be sitting out, ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If you live in an apartment complex, notify the management. Contact law enforcement if you see suspicious activity around your residence. “I remind our officers that any pedestrian traffic after dark should be treated with in-depth observation. People walking in groups or less populated parts of a property can be a cause for concern,” says McClure.
While nothing is foolproof, providing barriers to entry such as these makes it more difficult for thieves to target your vehicle, increasing the chance that they will give up and move on to an easier target.
“Vehicle-related crimes threaten our sense of personal security, but taking a few simple precautions can minimize the impact. Creating awareness is key,” says McClure.
For additional information about Signal 88 Security, visit www.signal88security.com.