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Auto Theft Prevention

Don't Become a Victim of Auto Theft


Auto Theft Poster - 2008

Do you own a vehicle?  If the answer is, "Yes," who's watching it?


In the City of Stockton in 2009, there were 2,787 vehicles stolen. In many of the thefts, the victims left their vehicle unattended and unlocked while it was warming up.

It takes only a few seconds for a thief to enter a running vehicle and drive away.  Not only does auto theft cost the victim time and money, but it cost society.  Auto theft drives insurance premiums up, and many times stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes.

Your vehicle may also be at an extra risk of being stolen if it is a popular model for thieves.  In 2009, the top 10 models of stolen vehicles nation-wide  were:

  •  Honda Civic
  •  Honda Accord
  •  Toyota Camry
  •  Ford Truck
  •  Chevy Truck
  •  Acura Integra
  •  Dodge Ram P/U
  •  Nissan Sentra
  •  Toyota Truck
  •  Toyota Corolla   

Click here to view "Photos of Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in 2010"


Tips for Avoiding Auto Theft

The Stockton Police Department recommends the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of auto theft:  

  • Never leave your car running or leave the key in the ignition while it is unattended, even to dash into a business, convenience store, gas stations, ATM, etc.  Many vehicles are stolen on cold mornings when the victim leaves the vehicle running to warm up. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in some states, and a citation may be issued in Stockton.
  • Always roll up the windows and lock the vehicle, even if it's in front of your home.  Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter.
  • Park in well-lit areas.  Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.
  • If  you have a garage, use it.  Take the time to use it rather than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.
  • Record your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Stolen cars/parts are more easily traced when vehicle VIN numbers have been etched on car windows and major parts. Copy and keep the VIN in a safe place to assist police in identifying your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
  • Never leave underage children unattended in your vehicle, as it is unsafe and illegal.


Decreasing Risk

How can you decrease your risk of being a victim?

Image of Steering Wheel Locking Device

Anti-theft devices really do work and most new cars now come with factory-installed theft devices.  If your vehicle does not have a device, several are available on the market that provide the necessary protection.  Many auto parts stores offer a  variety of protection options such as steering wheel and brake lock called a club, collar or j-bar that lock to the steering column or brake to prevent the wheel from  being turned.  Ignition cutoff switches, voltage sensing device (which triggers an alarm when a power drain is detected), and motion sensing devices, to name a few.

  • Audio alarms emit loud warning sounds when the doors, hood or trunk are open.
  • Vehicle tracking systems, which are installed in your vehicle, are activated when your vehicle is stolen.  These systems alert the police to the location of your vehicle for quick recovery.


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