One of the simplest things anyone can do to protect their car is to make sure all windows and doors are closed.
A reminder of that came last weekend, when several cars rolled into neighborhoods across the West End of Steubenville, other parts of the city and at Mingo Junction.
Police reports from the early part of the week show the number of people affected, many during the night hours between Saturday and Sunday. In almost all cases where money and other things were confiscated from vehicles, they were unlocked.
The suspected thieves appeared to have walked the streets and tried the doorknobs. If they find the car locked, they move.
If they were opened, they would venture inside, looking for money, computers, phones, wallets – anything of value that was left in the car. This also included important papers that were stored in the glove compartment or other boxes inside the car.
Since the accidents involved more than just opening a door on a car or truck, there wasn’t much that might have caught the attention of the owners or neighbors living nearby – there was no broken glass, no torn metal, no clear sound one might associate with the break-in.
Which means a lot of people were surprised on Sunday morning when they went out and found that someone had passed their car.
Unfortunately, vandalism and theft involving vehicles cannot be completely eliminated—whether the interior has been looted or the vehicle has just been taken—but there are some general steps everyone can take to make sure their vehicles are as safe as possible:
≤ Make sure you are standing in a well-lit place. While a lot of neighborhoods have street lights, this is not always the case. If this is your area, you can always install motion lights. Darkness is the criminal’s friend – it allows them to do their work unnoticed.
≤ Do not leave windows open and doors open. Again, this makes it very easy to get into the car without getting caught.
≤ Do not leave your keys in the car – or near the car. No matter how sure you are that you’ve found the perfect hiding place, thieves know where spare keys are likely to be hidden in or around cars.
≤ Do not leave valuables in your car. Leaving a phone, camera, computer, exchange rate, cash or wallet out in the open where they can be seen through the window is never a good idea.
≤ Make sure your vehicle’s alarm system is activated and working.
≤ Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your area. Most people are aware of the traffic patterns in their own neighbourhoods, especially the approximate times their neighbors come or go. Being active in odd hours may not be a thing – someone may have stayed out late with a friend or had to work again, which means they came home later than usual. But it can also be trolls roaming the streets.
If your car was targeted, the best case scenario would be to break the window and take something. The much worse case is that the car was stolen, and this became a much bigger problem. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, about one million vehicles were stolen in 2021. This number was an increase of 16.5 percent compared to 2019, and 29 percent compared to 2017.
Most stolen was a large Chevrolet pickup truck. The second was a full-size Ford pickup. Honda ranked third and fourth — Civics and Accord, respectively — while Toyota Camry took fifth. Another pickup—a full-size GMC—come sixth, seventh Nissan Altima, eighth Honda CR-V, ninth Jeep Cherokee Grand Cherokee, and tenth Toyota Corolla.
There is a difference in the vehicles that are taken across our area. In Ohio, for example, the full-size Ford pickup was the most stolen, followed by the full-size Chevy pickup, Accord, Civic, Chevy Malibu, Jeep Cherokee, Camry, Chevy Impala and Ford Fusion. and Corolla.
In West Virginia, a full-size Chevrolet pickup tops the list, followed by a full-size Ford pickup, a full-size Ford pickup, a Cherokee, a Chevy full-size pickup, and a Ford Escape. and Camry, Ram full size, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus.
In Pennsylvania, the Accord tops the list, followed by the Altima, Civic, full-size Ford pickup, Camry, Corolla, Malibu, Cherokee, Elantra, CRV, and Hyundai Sonata.
Our economy has helped turn stolen cars into a very profitable business.
“Used car values are at their highest previously,” According to David Galloway, president and CEO of the office.
We’ve seen a roughly 35% increase in the value of used cars over the past two years due to supply and inflation issues. Stolen cars can be shipped overseas and resold or taken apart for valuable used parts in the United States,” he added.
Unfortunately, the NICB reports that if it is reported stolen in the first 24 hours, passenger cars will have a 34 percent recovery rate in 2021.
Just another reminder – you can reduce the chances of your car being vandalized or stolen if you just remember to close the windows, lock the doors, and take your keys.
(Galabris, a resident of Steubenville, is the executive editor of the Herald Star and The Wharton Daily Times.)