Protect yourself from SUV Theft

The theft of SUVs is on the rise in America. How can you protect your sport utility vehicle from getting broken into or stolen? Let's find out.
SUV Theft is on the Rise
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), 1,001,967 vehicles were stolen in 2022. That represents an uptick of more than seven percent over the previous year. A car is stolen about every 40 seconds in America with total losses from motor vehicle thefts of over nearly nine billion dollars per year.
Not only were more cars stolen last year, but with a change in consumer trends has come a shift in the kinds of vehicles that are being stolen. Consumers have been purchasing vehicles that offer more versatility such as crossovers and SUVs and that uptick in sport utility vehicles on the roads has led to more of these types of automobiles being stolen by thieves. The top five states for SUV theft continue to be California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and New York.
In fact, today more SUVs and pickup trucks are being broken into or stolen than ever before. Each year the NICB releases its "Hot Wheels" list of most stolen vehicles. For 2022, full-size pickup trucks such as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ford F-150 were high on the target list. Interestingly, the reason those models were stolen in high numbers is the fact that there are simply more of them on the road. Plus, many of these trucks are packed with gear when stolen, so the thief gets both the truck and everything it is hauling.
The Silverado has the distinction of being the most stolen truck last year, with 48,206 getting nabbed. The Ford F-150 comes in at second place with 47,999 stolen. While Honda and Toyota sedans are still fan favorites for carjackers, the Honda CR-V made the top ten list of most stolen crossover vehicles last year with over 13,000 grabbed. Popular SUVs on the most-stolen list include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Ford Escape, Explorer, and the heavily targeted Expedition model.
Subaru's adventure wagons are popular with car thieves who target the Forester, Legacy, and Outback, and Toyota SUVs that disappear from parking lots include the Highlander, and RAV4. The reasons car thieves are targeting SUVs are simple and include the fact that there are more and more of them on the road, and that SUVs have lots of windows all around the vehicle, making it easy for crooks to look inside to see if there is anything valuable to steal.
How to Prevent SUV Theft
With more crossovers and SUVs being targeted by thieves who either break into the vehicle to steal stuff or drive away with the whole vehicle, let's take a look at ways you can make your SUV less interesting to carnappers.
Thieves like to work in dark places where they are not likely to be disturbed. With that in mind, always park your vehicle in a brightly lit area and the more people in the area, the better. SUVs are often nabbed on dark side streets or in parking structures when no one is around. Choose parking lots or secure parking that include security video cameras, guards, and plenty of lighting when possible.  
Because SUVs have big windows that wrap around the vehicle, all a thief has to do is glance inside to see if you have anything tasty to grab. So, don't leave your valuables in plain sight. Thieves are looking for smartphones, laptops, purses and wallets and anything they can hock for some cash. They can just smash your car window, grab, and go. Many SUVs and CUVs have a handy cargo cover in the back that allow you to store valuables out of sight. If your crossover or SUV doesn't have one of these retractable covers or cargo shades, they may be available at your local dealership or on Amazon. Many are less than $100.
Besides grabbing your valuables, some car thieves target specific items. In the case of large, three-row SUVs, they go after the easy-to-detach third row of seating. Vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Expedition are particular favorites for this type of theft. Why grab these third-row seats? Mainly because they have high resale value and lack a traceable serial number.
Speaking of traceable items, identity theft is a major problem in America. Last year, over 1.4 million Americans reported having their identities stolen according to the Federal Trade Commission. With that in mind, don't keep any identity documents in your SUV. Remove all mail, credit cards, insurance cards, and your vehicle registration from the parked vehicle. It's best to keep your insurance card and registration in your wallet or purse.

Don't Make it Easy for SUV Thieves
A thief's biggest foe is time. If you make it difficult to get to your vehicle, chances are that would-be thieves will move on to an easier target. Anything you can do to slow down a carnapper makes your SUV less attractive. Follow these steps to protect your vehicle:
·  Unlocked car doors make for an easy target. Keep your doors locked at all times, even while driving.
·  When parked, close all the windows in the vehicle, remove the keys, and lock it. If your SUV has an alarm, make sure it is armed.
·  Never leave a spare key in a hiding place. Thieves know all the secret places where you'll likely hide a spare.
·  Never leave your SUV running and unattended. You'd be begging for a thief to grab your vehicle.
·  Remove all valuables. If you have to leave something of value in your SUV, stow such valuables where they cannot be seen.
·  Never leave your Title, Registration, or Insurance Card in the vehicle.
·  Tracking devices make it easy for police to find your vehicle. Display a sticker to let thieves know you have a vehicle recovery tracking system.
·  In addition to a car alarm, immobilizer systems use smart keys, kill switches, and wireless ignition authentication to disable the vehicle.
·  Park in well-lit areas with security cameras. If you notice someone loitering around your vehicle, move it.

What to do if your SUV is Stolen
In the event that your crossover or SUV is stolen, first contact local police right away. You will need to file a stolen vehicle report and get a copy to send to your auto insurance agent.
The police will need to know your vehicle's license plate number, the year, make, model, color, and trim level of the SUV as well as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Let them know if the vehicle has any identifying details such as a roof rack or roof cargo carrier, aftermarket wheels or exhaust, bumper stickers, custom paint, or dents and dings.
Let the police know if your SUV is equipped with a vehicle tracking system so they can start the search to locate it. After speaking with law enforcement, call your auto insurance agent right away and report the theft. Once you have a copy of the police stolen vehicle report, get it to your auto insurance agent right away.
We hope that the simple precautions listed in this article will reduce the chance that your SUV is stolen. Lastly, Lithia Motors reminds you that if you are involved with a carjacking where a thief pulls you out of your SUV, do not resist. Your vehicle can be replaced, but you can't.