In recent months,
car thefthas been steeply on the rise in the United States. A variety of factors have contributed to this disturbing trend, which has police and other authorities sounding the alarm to drivers. They're trying to get the word out about some key ways to avoid being the
thieves' next victim.
Car theft has recently risen across the country
Best Life, experts are urging drivers to avoid parking in certain areas in order to protect themselves against car theft.
If possible, avoid parking on streets and instead try to park in a well-lit area.
If you have to park on a street, it’s best to choose one with high traffic. Thieves are targeting streets that don’t get a lot of foot traffic and that don’t have good lighting.
Consumer Reportsrecently reported that car thefts rose 9.2 percent overall in the past year. They explain that according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the pandemic was likely a significant contributing factor in this trend. As economic challenges related to the pandemic emerged, those struggling for basic essentials in some cases resorted to crime to make ends meet.
Unsurprisingly, certain types of cars were particularly vulnerable to theft. These tended to be older cars with less theft prevention technology.
Often, stolen cars were also left with keys inside or doors unlocked, making them easy marks. And in some cases, new
key fob technologymay be to blame. There is one other significant factor contributing to the rise in car thefts, however, and that is a car part we don't tend to think of too often: the catalytic converter.
Catalytic converters are gold for thieves
Even if thieves don't steal your entire car,
thefts of catalytic convertershave gone through the roof since the pandemic. As Best Life reports, in 2019 there were an average of 282 catalytic converter thefts per month. From January to May of 2021, however, there were an average of a whopping 5,200 monthly thefts of this car part.
The rising theft of catalytic converters comes down to one simple factor: money. David Glawe, president and CEO of the NICB, has explained this trend as follows: "As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices. There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals."
Tips to avoid being the next car theft victim
Though it's impossible to completely eliminate the threat of vehicle theft, there are some things you can do to lower the risk. First and foremost, try to park in well-lit and well-trafficked areas. Don't let thieves lurking in the shadows nab your ride.
Equally important, never leave your key in your vehicle for any reason. A recent rash of
thefts of meal delivery service drivershas shown the importance of always turning the car off and taking your key with you.
Finally, if you're particularly concerned about protecting your catalytic converter, there are various devices that can assist. Best Life explains, for example, that you can buy steel shields that fit over the converter to thwart thieves or delay their work.
There are also high-strength steel cages to go around the part, as well as stainless steel cables that can be welded from the catalytic converter to your car frame.
Prices for these devices can run anywhere from $250 to $800, depending on what you choose. While that may seem steep, the alternative of replacing a stolen catalytic converter will cost significantly more: likely from $1,000 to $3,000.
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