Governments don’t keep statistics on car break-ins (often called smash and grabs), but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If anecdotal accounts and car theft statistics are anything to go by, smash and grabs still occur even though the number of car thefts has dropped to much lower rates since before the Great Recession.
Car Theft Is Stabilizing But Still Occurs
The FBI claims that car theft rose slightly from 2012 to 2013; however, it is 43 percent lower than in 2003 and nearly 25 percent lower than in 2008.
Although modern auto technology incorporates alarms and other anti-theft devices, most older cars are easier to steal or break into. According to Automotive News, the average age of a car or light truck on the road today is 11.4 years, and few cars that old have alarms and other anti-theft devices. Regardless of alarms, however, it is much easier to break into a car and steal small items than steal the entire car, which is why this method is much more common.
Treat a Car Break-In as a Burglary
Treat a car break-in as you would treat a home break-in. NerdWallet, a financial service group, says to follow these steps:
- Don’t touch anything and call the police.
- Ask for a police report so you can file claims.
- Identify what was stolen, and identify missing credit cards or store cards to report. Notify one of the major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian).
- File claims.
- Replace or repair damages.
It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the damage to back up your claims.
But who do you call for this: your car insurance or your home or renter’s insurance? According to QuoteWizard, an online home and auto insurance brokerage, car insurance will cover damaged or stolen items that were part of the car such as factory-installed audio, windows and so on. Any personal items, like smartphones or purses, or parts that you installed, such as a customized sound system, fall under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. This is another reason why it’s so important to insure your living space, even if it’s a rental in a good neighborhood.
Take Steps to Protect Your Car From a Break-In
Your car can’t protect itself, so make it less appealing to would-be burglars. Top Ten Reviews, which reviews car sound systems, offers this advice:
- Keep your stuff out of sight. Carry things with you, lock them in the glove compartment, stash them in one of the car’s containers or put them in the trunk. If you have a wagon or hatchback, use the security screen. Install one if your car doesn’t have one.
- Get a removable front panel for your car stereo. This will make it look useless to audio thieves.
- Keep your car secure. An amazing number of people don’t lock their car doors, thinking they will be gone for just a moment. Consider installing a car alarm, which also can reduce your auto deductible.
- Park in high-traffic areas. If you’re forgetful, record the location in your phone.