Approximately 750,000 vehicles are stolen in the United States each year. It is a problem that often costs billions of dollars, many hours of frustration, and numerous days of inconvenience. Accordingly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is holding its annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Campaign this July to help drivers prevent motor vehicle theft from happening to them.
Iowa State Police Work to Prevent Vehicle Thefts
The Iowa State Patrol Division has a Vehicle Theft Unit. Since 1976, officers have been trained as vehicle theft investigators. The unit’s mission is to reduce vehicle thefts within the state of Iowa and to reduce vehicles stolen out of state from being sold in Iowa. In order to achieve these goals, the Vehicle Theft Unit:
- Investigates vehicle theft. This includes inspecting stolen vehicles, using confidential informants, maintaining records from garages and salvage operators, and other activities.
- Cooperates with other federal, county, and local law enforcement agencies, the public, insurance companies, and other groups on the issue of motor vehicle theft.
- Trains and educates vehicle theft officers.
- Works to improve Iowa motor vehicle theft legislation.
While these efforts are useful, the police can’t solve the problem of motor vehicle theft alone.
How You Can Help Protect Your Own Vehicle From Theft
You can’t prevent every motor vehicle theft, but according to the NHTSA you can make it less likely that your vehicle will be targeted by never:
- Leaving your keys in your vehicle.
- Leaving your windows open or your car unlocked when you are not in the vehicle.
- Leaving valuables in your vehicle.
Additionally, if possible you can:
- Park in a well-lit or well-populated area.
- Use a car alarm system.
- Use an immobilizing type device that prevents a thief from hot-wiring your vehicle.
- Use a vehicle recovery system that will show the location of your vehicle and may help the police locate your car if it is stolen.
If your vehicle has been stolen then it is important to notify the police and your insurance company as soon as possible so that the police can work on finding your vehicle and the insurance company can work on your financial recovery.