According to the FBI’s latest figures, vehicle theft has dropped for the sixth consecutive year. Based on that information, it would appear that theft isn’t an issue that dealers need to be particularly concerned about. However, those figures are deceptively positive, because the rate of stolen vehicles that are never recovered has reached a 20-year high (43 percent). That alarming percentage translates to more than 400,000 vehicles not recoveredin 2008 (latest data available).
Most experts agree that it is getting increasingly difficult to recover stolen vehicles, because of the sophisticated tactics of organized crime rings. These professional thieves know how to outsmart smart keys and disable most anti-theft devices, leaving vehicles more vulnerable than ever to theft, and they aren’t stopping there. Unfortunately, thieves are also outsmarting many dealers who aren’t taking precautions to protect vehicles on their lots from theft.
LoJack Corporation, the company that invented the Stolen Vehicle Recovery market more than 20 years ago, has compiled data from more than 100 recoveries of LoJack-equipped vehicles stolen from dealer lots over the past three years. From this data, LoJack has analyzed how theft has occurred and, as a result, recommends a layered approach for dealers to protect the vehicles on their lots.
Layer one: use common sense measures
- Never leave a vehicle running—even if you are just running into the dealership to tell your customer the car is ready to test drive.
- Never leave the keys in a vehicle—it’s an open invitation for a crime of opportunity.
- Never let a customer test drive a vehicle unaccompanied—regardless of how busy you are.
- Keep your keyboard locked during business hours—so no unauthorized persons have access to keys.
- Hide/remove the valet key—so that it cannot be stolen from a vehicle and used at a later time.
Layer two: protect your lot
- Make certain your lot is well lit at night—thieves prefer working where they can’t be easily spotted.
- Install on site security cameras—thieves may go elsewhere if they think they are being recorded.
- Fence in your vehicles if possible—it provides another deterrent making it more difficult to drive off with one of your vehicles.
Layer three: ensure recovery in the event of theft
As a final step, consider protecting your dealership from fraudulent behaviors by pre-installing a stolen vehicle recovery system in vehicles on your lot. Today’s sophisticated thieves often use stolen identities, bad checks, or other false information to “purchase” vehicles from dealers—who are not aware of the theft until after the fact. Using a system that both employs radio frequency—the time-tested, most successful technology for tracking and recovering vehicles—and is directly integrated with law enforcement will ensure that your dealership is employing the most effective measure to get your vehicle back.
This layered approach provides a combination of strategies designed to minimize the risk and business losses associated with theft. Employ these key steps to ensure that your vehicles are not among the 400,000 that are stolen and never recovered.
D.J. Thompson is a director of LoJack’s staff of Law Enforcement Liaisons (LELs). His combined 22 years of service at law enforcement agencies make Thompson an expert on the subject of vehicle theft and protection. For more information, go to www.lojack.com.