It’s already proving to be a busy year for car thieves here in Nashville — by mid-June, we’d seen an astonishing 87 percent jump in the number of stolen cars, year-to-date.
The rising car-theft rates have been consistent across all of Metro Nashville’s police precincts in 2017, with the biggest jumps in Madison (168 percent) and Hermitage (128 percent).
I bring all this up not to bum my neighbors out, but to bring up something important: A surprising majority of vehicle thefts happen because we make it way too easy for thieves.
Take precautions in Nashville
Of the cars stolen in Nashville by late May of 2017, a full 78 percent had keys in them. Almost 40 percent were left running.
That’s not a new occurrence, either — in 2016, 68 percent of the cars stolen in Nashville had keys available, and almost 20 percent were left running.
So while we’re on a considerable incline here in Nashville, it’s clear we have a problem worth knowing about, and addressing: We’re not taking the quick precautions we should. Since July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, it seemed like a good time to highlight what we can and should be doing to minimize the chances of having our cars stolen.
The main points the Nashville Police Department encourages:
— Always, always lock your car, and never leave it running. That includes warming your car up in the winter or cooling it down in the summer, and jetting into the convenience store really quick.
— Don’t leave anything even remotely valuable in your car, especially if it’s visible through the windows. Leaving your purse on the floorboards while you grab a quick walk in the park is an invitation to thieves.
— Before you walk away, make sure all your windows — including vent windows — are closed completely. A window that’s open even a crack is in invitation too.
— When you park, look for well-lit areas, and if possible, a lot that has attendants. (Cars are five times more likely to be stolen from unattended lots.)
— Keep your doors locked while you’re driving, too, and be aware of your surroundings. Car-jacking is on the rise.
You can read some more car-theft prevention tips from the Nashville Police Department here.
Don’t depend entirely on insurance
I may be an independent insurance agent, and I’ll always encourage you to have adequate auto insurance, but I’d never encourage anyone to feel unconcerned about car theft just because they have insurance in place.
Your car insurance won’t necessarily erase all your headaches if your car’s stolen. Depending on your policy, you may only have coverage that includes the depreciated value of your car, rather than replacement cost. Your insurance policy may or may not cover a rental car while you’re dealing with the fallout. Personal or business items that are stolen from your vehicle may not be covered unless you have a homeowners or renters policy. (This is one of the key reasons to have a renters insurance policy.)
Prevention is key. (I’m also happy to talk with you about your car insurance coverage, if you want to make sure that you’re well-prepared, while you’re being extra cautious.)
Know if you’re more of a target
While the specific car you drive doesn’t necessarily make you guaranteed to have it stolen, any more than your car choice makes you immune to theft, I think it’s worth knowing if, statistically, your car’s been more tempting to thieves.
Newer cars — many of which have factory-installed anti-theft devices — tend to be targeted less. But that’s not 100 percent either.
If you’re curious whether you have a statistical reason to be triply cautious, below are the Top 10 stolen vehicles in Tennessee last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau:
1 - 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
2 - 1997 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
3 - 1996 Honda Accord
4 - 2015 Nissan Altima
5 - 2001 Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
6 - 2008 Chevrolet Impala
7 - 2000 Honda Civic
8 - 2016 Toyota Camry
9 - 2000 GMC Pickup (Full Size)
10 - 1997 Nissan Maxima
The benefits of anti-theft devices
Anything you do to make it less convenient for thieves — from common-sense precautions to anti-theft devices — is worthwhile.
Added benefits: Some insurance carriers (including some that I work with) offer rate discounts if you have anti-theft devices in place.
The specific discount depends on a lot of different factors, but it can range from 5 to 25 percent of your premium. In general, you get better discounts for passive anti-theft devices — ones that automatically arm when you turn the car off, or take the key out — than you do with active devices that you have to manually arm.
It makes sense that insurance carriers would want to encourage this stuff. Traditionally, fewer than half of stolen cars are recovered. But take a recovery system like LoJack, as an example — they claim a 90 percent recovery rate for LoJack-armed cars. And when that particular product hit the market, car theft rates in cities across the country dropped considerably: 50 percent in Boston, 35 percent in Newark, almost 20 percent in Los Angeles.
Curious to see if you’re due some solid car-insurance discounts in Nashville? I’d be glad to look into it. Just give me a call, or drop me an email.
Have any other car-insurance questions? I’m always happy to help. Reach out here.
For an easier way to get the ball rolling, you can also always grab a quick car insurance quote by filling out this form.