Holiday Spirit Can be Gone with Auto Theft and Break-Ins

December 6, 2005

It’s important to take extra precautions to protect your car around the holidays, since vehicles filled with expensive holiday purchases can make the payoff extra sweet for a car thief.

According to claim statistics from State Farm, which insures more vehicles than any other company in the United States, nearly 7,000 customers reported their cars stolen between Thanksgiving and the end of the year in 2004. That means almost 200 customers experienced a stolen car every day during the holidays last year. State Farm also receives thousands of reports of automobile break-ins during the holidays.

“At the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility, we work with the major automakers to influence design changes that will help to deter thieves. We regularly dismantle new automobile models and report back to the manufacturers on ways they can make their cars harder to steal, safer and easier to repair,” said Earl Hyser, superintendent of the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility. “Although dozens upon dozens of anti-theft improvements influenced by State Farm are on the road today, drivers must still take it upon themselves to make their vehicle an unattractive target.”

Hyser said drivers can decrease their chance of becoming a victim by following some simple tips that will make their vehicle less attractive to steal. The State Farm Vehicle Research Facility recommends a layered approach to keeping yourself from becoming an auto theft or break-in victim:

— Lock your car and take the keys with you.
— Never leave the car running with the keys in the ignition, even for
just a minute or two.
— Never hide a key in or around your car. Thieves know where to find them.
— Park in well-lit areas.
— Keep valuables, such as bags full of gifts out of sight. Be mindful of cell phones, CDs, wallets and other valuables you might leave in the storage areas around the driver’s compartment.
— Lock both your garage and your car inside.
— To prevent towing thefts:
— If parking on the street, turn the wheels toward the curb and set
your parking brake.
— If parking in a lot or driveway front-wheel drive cars should pull
into the space normally (front-first), rear-wheel drive cars should back into the space. Apply the parking brake and lock the vehicle.
— If you live in a high-crime area, consider buying an additional theft protection device.

— When shopping for a new vehicle, look for some key features, such as:
— A factory immobilizer (a computer chip in the key).
— A locking steering wheel.
— And other anti-theft devices, such as an alarm or GPS tracking

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