By Ms. Joan B Vasey (Huachuca)July 8, 2016
Fort Huachuca, Arizona--July is the month when more cars are stolen than any other month according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which implements a nationwide Vehicle Theft Prevention Month campaign annually each July.
"It's summertime, and people and drivers are more active," said Lt. Adrian D. Galindo, traffic management collision supervisor, Law Enforcement Division, Directorate of Emergency Services.
Motor vehicles are the primary mode of transportation for most people, and often, an indispensable part of their lives. Vehicle theft is an expensive crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles pegged at more than $4.1 billion. A vehicle is stolen about every 55 seconds somewhere in the United States, according to NHTSA. Only about 55 percent of all stolen vehicles are ever recovered.
In Arizona, the most commonly stolen vehicles are heavy duty trucks, dual axle trucks, and vehicles with four-wheel drive, although many makes and models of cars are also stolen.
Galindo, who has been working on Fort Huachuca intermittently since 2003, said no vehicles have been stolen on the installation during that time, but he cautions people to not let their guard down.
"People tend to be more lax on post, and it's easy to become complacent. Fort Huachuca is an umbrella of security," he stated. "However people should take the same precautions as they would off-post."
Don't make your vehicle a target, he advised. Nearly half of vehicle theft is due to driver error, such as leaving keys in or on the vehicle.
Whether on or off post, drivers should always turn the engine off when parking. Before departing the vehicle, remove valuables or ensure they are out of sight. Close windows and lock all doors.
At night, park in well-lit areas.
If you have a garage, always keep the vehicle inside when it's not in use.
Protect your vehicle with an antitheft system or device designed to make the vehicle more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover.
Audible devices such as a horn alarm deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle.
Visible devices create a visual threat, warning and deterrence, such as the use of steering-wheel locks -- as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights and window etching with the vehicle identification number.
Immobilizing-type devices prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle's ignition system and hot-wiring the engine. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys to disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.
Vehicle recovery systems use electronic transmission technology that helps law enforcement personnel reveal the location of the vehicles and possibly catch thieves in action.
If your vehicle comes up missing, take prompt action.
If it is stolen off post, contact police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. If on post, call the military police. Drivers will need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to their insurance company. Drivers may also be asked to provide the license plate number, make, model and color of vehicle, and VIN and any identifying characteristics.
Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours after discovering your vehicle was stolen.
If you find it before authorities do, immediately contact the police and your insurance company.
For more information on vehicle theft prevention, check out NHTSA's SaferCar.gov/theft website and the main NHTSA site at www.nhtsa.gov/theft.