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Warning: auto thefts on the rise

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - There is a new warning for anyone who owns or leases an automobile: auto theft and carjackings are on the rise. An analysis by the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows auto theft took a dramatic leap upward in 2020 compared to 2019, reversing two years of auto theft declines.

According to this initial study, NICB found that there were 873,080 auto thefts in 2020, a 9.2% increase over 2019 and recorded the most thefts for a single year the past decade. Further, every month from June through December 2020 saw theft increases ranging from 11% to 18% over 2019.

Overall, 38 states witnessed increases in auto thefts in 2020 over 2019.

NICB CEO David Glawe said the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the crime in the United States involving automobiles.

“What has caused that? We have disenfranchised youth, we have unemployment, we have social service centers that are closed, we have schools that are closed and a general frustration in society. And what does that mean? It means frustration among our youth,” he said.

He said during the pandemic, cars are parked on the street and not being driven around. That makes them easy targets for thieves.

“To prevent crime, it starts with your good personal security hygiene. So the first question you should ask is, are you covered by insurance in the event your vehicle is stolen? Contact your insurance agent and see if you have comprehensive coverage. If you drive a vehicle, you must have liability insurance to operate that vehicle, but comprehensive insurance is not required. You will not be covered after the fact.”

Glawe recommends these tips to prevent a theft.

- Look where you’re parking your car. Is it parked in a well-lit area so there’s natural surveillance in the public walking by to see if there’s something suspicious for them to call 911.

- Don’t leave your keys and your key fab in your car. That’s an easy target for suspects to steal your car.

- If you see something, say something’s suspicious. Call 911 in the event your car is stolen immediately, and document where it was last parked and the last time your saw it.

-Document your vehicle. Take a picture of it, the state and license plate on it, the color, the make, the model and year so in the event your car is stolen, you have that readily available for law enforcement.

In Wisconsin, the latest data from NICB showed the state saw a two-year decline. Specifically for vehicle thefts, there were 9,760 in 2017. In 2018, there were 9,212. And in 2019. there were 7,965 vehicle thefts.

For more information, visit: www.Nicb.org.

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