Beware Of New Year’s Car Theft

By Ross Kenneth Urken, AOL Autos

Motorists are more vulnerable to car theft during new year festivities (Flickr: Liam Wilde).

(AOL Autos)Heading out for New Year’s Eve? Not only should drivers take care not to drive after too many tipples, they should take extra precautions against thieves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) reports January 1 is the most common day for car thefts each year.

There were 2,347 vehicles reported stolen last year on New Year’s Day, which is 200 more than the second worst day for thefts, Memorial Day, according to the NCIB. Christmas Day is the least common holiday for car thefts with 1,361 vehicles reported stolen in 2010.

A motor vehicle is stolen every 33 seconds in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the solution to this trend on January 1 might be a dose of extra vigilance.

“No one should start off the new year dealing with the expense, hassle and emotional stress of having a vehicle stolen,” said Patrick Clancy, Vice President of Law Enforcement at LoJack Corporation. “Car owners should ring in 2012 by using common sense measures.”

Clancy advises drivers to lock their doors, park in well-lit areas and never leave the car running and unattended–even in the midst of the revelry. It is thought that New Year’s Day has such a car theft epidemic, because after champagne toasts, people take cabs more commonly and leave their cars overnight often in unfamiliar territory.

Gaining access to cars has been the true impediment to a car thief’s success, and since 1998, the frequency of theft claims for vehicles has declined, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization says theft numbers have dropped most significantly for SUVS, plunging from 4.9 claims per 1,000 insured vehicles a year in 1998 to a more modest 2.4 in 2008.

Still, if revelers are rushing off to a party, they can commonly get hit with misfortune when rushing into a liquor store for champagne and forgetting to turn off or lock the car.

Another mistake to avoid: locking the car but then leaving the valet key in the cup-holder. You would be surprised how often car thieves get a head-start by having a key.

Another huge deterrent to car thieves: remove one of the battery cables before leaving your car. The vast majority of car thieves won’t pop the hood to see why the car won’t start.

The five states with the highest vehicle thefts in the past year were in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Georgia, according to the Insurance Information Institute. So if in those locales to ring in the new year, be double careful.

Motorists may want to amp up the care they take if they have any of NICB’s six most commonly stolen cars in the following slideshow:

The Top 6 Most Stolen Cars In The U.S.

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