Vehicle theft is a burden on fleet managers and affects a company’s bottom line. Automotive Fleet surveyed fleet managers to learn how fleets handle vehicle theft.


Stolen Vehicle Statistics

A majority of fleets experience an average of two vehicles stolen per year. Most fleets (53 percent) recover all stolen vehicles; however, many fleets never recover vehicles taken by thieves.

What are fleets doing to prevent this loss? Many fleets utilize manufacturer standard equipment and alarm systems, while others rely on an alarm depending on the type of equipment carried in the vehicle. A small number of fleets only utilize alarms on newer vehicles. Available funds and current risk factors are the determining factors in whether to equip a vehicle with an alarm. One fleet said, "It is too costly to alarm every vehicle in fleet." A few others mentioned "up until now, there was no [or low] risk," or the "cost to outfit the fleet exceeds our annual average losses."


What are Fleets Doing to Combat Stolen Vehicles?

Fleets can take several steps to help secure vehicles against theft. The following are best practices to help protect vehicles and prevent theft:

  1. Do not leave vehicles and/or company equipment unsecured.
  2. Install alarms on vehicles with sensitive equipment.
  3. Designate specific parking areas.
  4. Request drivers remove valuable items from eyesight. One option is placing these items in the vehicle trunk.
  5. Prompt drivers to lock vehicles at all times and park in well-lit, safe areas.
  6. Install a GPS system in vehicles.

Vehicle Theft is Rising

According to one fleet manager, vehicle theft, vandalism, and incidents such as fuel siphoning and catalytic converter theft have escalated over the past two years. "Thieves seem to be getting more sophisticated, targeting less-desirable, inconspicuous vehicles."

Another fleet manager expressed concern regarding law enforcement agency response time, while others utilize technology to reduce theft.

"Chip keys have almost ended vehicle theft in our fleet. We have one theft about every 18 months. Before chip keys, we had eight to 10 vehicles stolen each year."

In most fleets, drivers are financially responsible for the vehicle and any personal items left in the vehicle, and may be terminated if a vehicle was stolen due to employee negligence (i.e., keys left in the ignition).

New vehicles are not the only targets for theft. All vehicles should be considered vulnerable and appropriate actions should be taken to reduce vehicle theft.

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