In the spirit of the holiday season, which begins with Thanksgiving, I urge a sense of caution in an often overlooked area. Auto thefts can increase when drivers focus on holiday activities. We need to be more aware than ever before to prevent these crimes.
One particular spike, while not the theft of the entire auto, is with thieves stealing catalytic converters. They can remove them in minutes, and while your car remains in place, the reality is that you must replace it, usually for more than a thousand dollars. If your insurance company pays to replace the part, you may see a rate hike. A catalytic converter reduces harmful emissions and helps cars run more smoothly. Thieves steal them for money. They are easy to remove, and thieves can get upwards of $500 for them because of their valuable metals. Often, scrapyards are prime markets for them.
This is why I have cosponsored Senate Bill No. 249. It would expand the definition of scrap metal and require scrap metal owners to keep a detailed record of anyone selling them a catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle. Moreover, the scrap metal owner must verify that sellers of standalone catalytic converters are registered businesses.
Another auto-related legislation I have sponsored is Senate Bill No. 3006. This bill increases an individual's incarceration time when committing motor vehicle crimes. It would also increase penalties if any violence occurs during the commission of the crime.
Don't think that vehicle theft always happens to someone else. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), "Nearly half a million vehicles were stolen in the first half of 2022 (as of June 30), equating to an estimated $4.5 billion worth of vehicle losses from thefts. This represents a 25% increase over the vehicle theft total reported for the first half of the year in 2019. Separately, catalytic converter thefts have increased 1,215% nationwide since 2019, and carjackings have increased 160% to over 500% in some major cities since 2019."
Tips that can help prevent you from becoming a victim of vehicle theft include:
- Always practice good security hygiene.
- Make sure your auto policy is up-to-date.
- Roll up your windows, lock your doors, and take the keys or fob.
- Park in well-lit areas and, when possible, areas staffed by security
- Park personal vehicles in a garage. If that is not possible, and vehicles must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice, making them leave the area and your vehicle untouched.
Should your vehicle be stolen, call law enforcement and your insurer immediately. Reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after it is stolen increases the chance of recovery.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call the NICB at 1-800-TEL-NICB. For additional information, visit NICB's website, www.NICB.org.
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau
I don't mean to be the voice of pessimism during the holiday season. Enjoy it with happiness and the delight that it brings every year. My only goal is to provide a word of caution during a festive time.
That's my take, what's yours?