(VIA National Insurance Crime Bureau) In the early 1990’s, the major automotive manufacturers faced a major issue. While their sales were on the rise, so were the theft of the vehicles that they were producing. In the year 1991, automotive thefts hit their all-time high with 1,661,738 vehicles being reported stolen. Not only was this the highest amount of automotive thefts reported in one year, but it also had the highest concentration of thefts per capita. During that year, there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 US citizens. Recently released statistics show that for the year 2013 there was a sharp decline in the amount of automotive theft that have taken place sine the year 1991, the year which had the most automotive thefts in United States history.
During 2013, 699,594 vehicles were reported stolen. This is a decrease of over 55% when compared to the year 1991. Not only was there a decrease in the overall amount of automotive thefts, but there was also a decrease in the amount of car thefts per capita. While there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in 1991, that number had decreased to less than 200 per 100,000 people. That shows a decrease of over 67% in the amount of thefts. This does raise a few questions, like; what has changed that allowed for such a dramatic decrease of automotive thefts?
Upgrades in Automotive Security
During the year 1991, thieves were commonly using the hot-wire method to steal vehicles. This is where a thief opens your dashboard or ignition in order to access the starter wire. Once the thief had access to that wire, by giving it a power charge they would be able to start the vehicle. The updated technology of transponder car keys has actively removed this method from thieves’ arsenals. Even with power being sent to the starter, a vehicle which has a transponder car key system will not start unless there is a key with a corresponding transponder chip inside of the ignition. While this has made vehicles more secure, it can also end up costing car owners. If you car key is lost and you need to call a mobile locksmith to replace it, a transponder car key will cost more to be replaced than a traditional blade key. The reason for this is that a new key must not only be cut to match the ignition, but it also must be programmed to the car’s computer in order for it to properly function.
Upgrades in automotive security are not the only factor that has assisted with this massive decline in automotive thefts. Police and other law enforcement agencies have implemented new strategies, while also dedicating more time, for fighting the plague of automotive thefts which had been going on during the early 1990’s. What law enforcement has done is set-up dedicated units which solely focus on automotive theft. They have also implemented “bait cars” and automated license plate readers. One assists police in getting automotive thieves off the street before they can strike an unsuspecting victim, while the other works to identify stolen vehicle and return them to their rightful owner.
There is no doubt that car owners should be encouraged by the sharp decrease in automotive thefts. After all, vehicles are extremely expensive pieces of equipment and their security needs to be at an acceptable level for this reason. As with many technologies, these security features may only be effective in the short-term. Thieves are always working to gain an advantage over those trying to stop them and it only figures to be a short period of time before they come up with a new and effective way to steal transponder car key vehicles. Currently thieves are preying on the carelessness and momentary lapses of judgement that vehicle owners may experience to steal vehicles in a less technical way.