As we bid farewell to July, fleets should keep in mind all year long what the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been promoting all month: preventing vehicle theft.
In the U.S., a vehicle is stolen every 43.8 seconds. July is National Vehicle Prevention Month, and NHTSA has been running its annual campaign to help combat the problem.
Throughout July, the government agency took action to highlight the potential for motor vehicle theft with the public as well as offer preventive measures vehicle owners can take. In addition, NHTSA spotlighted the importance of addressing the vehicle theft problem and its significant economic impact.
There were an estimated 721,885 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2019, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts was 219.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, auto thefts surged in 2020 during the pandemic, rising to 873,080 incidences — a more than 9% increase over 2019, reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau. According to the findings, every month in 2020 showed increases compared to 2019. Overall, the yearly increase was 9.2%, however, each month from June through December showed double-digit gains.
Automotive fleet owners should also be aware that in 2019, of all motor vehicles stolen, nearly 75% were automobiles, according to FBI data.
Now is a good time to remind fleet drivers of simple ways they can safeguard their vehicles. NHTSA recommends the following:
- Park in well-lit, secure areas. If there are security cameras around the area, that’s ideal.
- Close and lock all windows and doors when leaving your vehicle.
- Stow away all valuables. Cell phones, laptops, and other items that are visible inside the vehicle are just invitations to thieves to break in and steal it.
- Never leave your keys in the vehicle.
- Never leave the area while your motor is running. This makes your vehicle an especially easy target.
Vehicle theft remains a major safety issue on our nation’s highways and byways. It is also a costly problem for consumers, fleet owners, and insurers. Over $6 billion ($6.4) was lost nationwide to motor vehicle thefts in 2019, notes the FBI. The average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $8,886.