Auto Theft Spiked Dramatically in 2020

Reversing a downward trend in recent years, car thefts soared in 2020, with numbers on track to exceed any year in the past decade, according to a new analysis. The economic impact of the pandemic could be largely to blame, the report suggests, and the rise could, to some extent, affect car insurance rates accordingly.

Key points to remember

  • A new report shows that 2020 could be the highest year for car thefts in the past decade.
  • The economic impacts related to the pandemic may be a big part of the cause.
  • Car theft rates play a role in calculating the cost of insurance coverage.

Car thefts have increased by 9% since 2019

A first analysis published this week by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that there were 873,080 car thefts in 2020, an increase of 9.2% compared to 2019. This represents more than 73,000 thefts additional.

“Preliminary reports indicate a sharp increase in auto theft for 2020,” says NICB President and CEO David Glawe. “Everything indicates that 2020 will be the most important flight year of the last decade by a significant margin.”

According to the results, each month of 2020 showed increases over 2019, with the months of June through December posting double-digit gains.

The NICB published the first data before its annual hot spots reportwhich is due out in mid-2021, due to the unique circumstances of 2020.

Economic and civil unrest are likely causes

Glawe notes that a more in-depth assessment of the causes is still underway, but “considerations such as the pandemic, economic downturn, loss of youth outreach programs, and budgetary and public safety resource limitations are likely contributing factors.” contributors”.

“Thieves exploit opportunities and may look for vehicles parked in the same place or citizens who do not take appropriate measures to secure their vehicles,” he adds.

Car theft is a costly crime

Motor vehicle theft accounts for $6.4 billion in losses annually, according to the latest tally from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The average loss per theft is $8,886.

Only about 56% of stolen vehicles are recovered, according to other data.

How car theft affects insurance rates

Vehicle theft rates play a role in determining the cost of full coverage, says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications at the Insurance Information Institute. Comprehensive coverage is the part of a full-coverage auto insurance policy that insures against theft or damage to an automobile for reasons other than a collision.

Typically, a quarter of the full auto premium covers car theft claims, Ruiz says.

Where an insured lives and what type of car they own can both affect insurance premiums. The NICB compiles auto theft data by state and city. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute lists the vehicle makes and models with the lowest and highest full insurance loss rates.

What drivers can do to prevent theft

Given the current situation, the NICB says drivers should do more to protect their vehicles and minimize the risk of theft. In addition to common sense practices like always removing keys or fobs from the car, locking doors, and parking in well-lit areas, the NICB notes that alarms and immobilizers and trackers can help. to thwart the thieves and help the police recover the vehicle.

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