According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports, more than 1.1 million vehicles were stolen in the U.S. in 2007. And stolen vehicle incidents can turn into dangerous high-speed pursuits — more than 400 people die every year as a result of high-speed police chases.
Inspector Rick Killips of the Michigan State Police shares some tips with our readers on how to help prevent vehicle theft:
• Don’t leave your vehicle running unattended (for example, if you run into the gas station and want to leave the heat or air on) or out of view, even in your own driveway. This allows for a “crime of opportunity” to happen.
• When you get out of your vehicle, take your keys with you. Don’t leave them on the seat or armrest. Roll windows up tight, and be sure to lock your doors so it’s more difficult for a thief to get in.
• Don’t leave an mp3 player, digital camera, GPS or any other item that may be enticing for a thief out in plain sight. Not only could these items be stolen from your vehicle, but once a thief is already inside, they may decide to take your car too.
• Don’t create an atmosphere conducive to a theft. Always try to park in a secure, well-lit area when you do leave your vehicle.
If — even after taking these precautions — your vehicle is stolen, Inspector Killips advises that you:
• Immediately call the police. The sooner they get your information into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the quicker authorities can get the word out to local law enforcement agencies and the better the chance for vehicle recovery.
• Keep your registration and proof of insurance on you (for example, in a wallet or purse). Don’t leave them in your vehicle. Stolen vehicle victims often will be so distracted by what has occurred, they will forget common details about their vehicle — such as license plate number, vehicle description, etc. — and having the authorities take the time to gather this information may give the thief the time they need to get away with your vehicle.
• But when you have OnStar and Stolen Vehicle Assistance,1 you have an ace in the hole. Recovering stolen vehicles safely is one of OnStar’s goals. OnStar receives about 700 Stolen Vehicle Assistance requests from subscribers each month and has helped in over 28,000 requests over the past decade.
Once you notify law enforcement and OnStar that your vehicle has been stolen, OnStar can help locate it using the GPS technology built into your vehicle. Plus OnStar’s two newest enhancements to Stolen Vehicle Assistance — Stolen Vehicle Slowdown®2 and Remote Ignition Block3 — not only help in locating stolen vehicles, they can also help save lives by preventing dangerous high speed pursuits from ever starting.
Here’s how they work:
Stolen Vehicle Slowdown — available on select 2009 or newer vehicles — lets an OnStar Advisor remotely slow a vehicle to idle speed by sending a signal to the powertrain system to reduce engine power when requested by law enforcement.
Remote Ignition Block — also available on select 2009 or newer vehicles — allows an OnStar Advisor to send a remote signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to prevent the vehicle from being restarted once the ignition is turned off.
1 Ability to locate stolen vehicle varies with conditions.
2 Stolen Vehicle Slowdown is available on select 2009 GM vehicles. Visit onstar.com for details.
3 Remote Ignition Block is available on select 2009 and newer GM vehicles. Visit onstar.com for details. Success varies with conditions.