Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released data reporting that vehicle thefts were up 3.1% in 2015 over the previous year. The total estimated number of vehicles stolen in 2015 was 707,758 nationwide or about 220.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, costing more than $4.9 billion in losses. Of the stolen vehicles, 74.7% were automobiles.
While the FBI doesn’t track commercial/fleet vehicle thefts specifically, they continue to be a concern, according to LoJack.
“These vehicles are highly valuable not only as a single unit, but for their parts. LoJack has warned about the fact that vehicle thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, and this is true for commercial vehicle thefts as well,” said Patrick Clancy, vice president of LoJack Law Enforcement.
The cause of these thefts is also different than those of consumers’ vehicles, often an “inside job,” involving an employee. For commercial fleets, it’s not just the thefts of vehicles, but thefts from vehicles that are another challenge that they face.
“Thefts from vehicles are another growing problem noted within the FBI data,” said Clancy. “Thefts from motor vehicles accounted for 24% of all larceny-thefts in 2015, with targeted thefts of motor vehicle accessories making up an additional 7%. Theft of valuables from cars also increased by 3.7% compared to 2014. Property crimes overall decreased by 3.4%, but when we look at motor vehicles in particular, those rates are going up.”
Reflecting its growing scope, the FBI has begun tracking cargo thefts.
Connectivity and the potential for hacking vehicle systems has changed the theft landscape with criminals utilizing tech-enabled methods to steal vehicles.
“Once you give a vehicle connectivity, you’re creating an opportunity for that vehicle to be hacked into, and the data stored within to be stolen,” said Clancy. “Fleet managers need to be aware of the latest cyber threats and ensure their fleet vehicles are protected. The fact that commercial fleets cycle their vehicles faster than consumers certainly creates challenges. Thieves are increasingly targeting newer commercial vehicle models because of their resale value.”
These varied and ever-evolving threats may be keeping fleet managers up at night, but there are tools at fleets’ disposal that can combat these threats; chief among them is telematics.
“Many telematics providers offer location data on demand, so fleet managers have complete visibility into where resources are located at all times,” said Clancy. “Telematics-enabled tools like geo-fencing also allow fleet managers to set invisible boundaries on certain vehicles and equipment, to help prevent unauthorized use. Many systems also utilize real-time notifications, so managers can be quickly notified in the case of theft.”