Greensboro, N.C. - The latest Consumer Reports data lists the Ford F-250 as most frequently-stolen car, with a claim frequency of nearly six times the average of all vehicles.
Just trailing the Ford F-250 in number of stolen vehicle claims filed were the Chevy Silverado 1500, the Chevy Avalanche 1500, the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Cadillac Escalade, followed by several other trucks and SUVs. The Escalade used to be on top of that list until it was outfitted with additional theft deterrents in 2010, which thereby decreased the claim frequency on that model.
WFMY News 2 spoke with Greensboro police officer Douglas Campbell Friday and inquired about how drivers can best equip their cars with the latest safety technology to prevent them from being stolen.
He first reiterated the importance of Consumer Reports' basic tips, which suggest drivers ensure their sure car windows are completely rolled up before they exit their vehicles. Thieves can utilize any window cracks to slip hangers inside and pick the door lock. Also, drivers must ensure valuable items-like purses, phones, GPS devices-are not left out in plain sight.
Upon leaving the vehicle, drivers must always lock their doors when they walk away from the vehicle. Officer Campbell said thieves often prey on drivers who leave their cars unlocked to run into a gas station or other venue. He said unlocked doors with car keys left in the ignition are the most frequent causes of car theft that the Greensboro Police Department encounters. Additionally, he advised drivers not to leave spare keys in the car, even if they are equipped with a magnetic device.
Campbell said drivers should park their cars in well-lit areas. He affirmed several of the Greensboro parking lots are equipped with cameras.
"Those things are common sense tips, but people are not doing them, and they are losing their cars and property in Greensboro every month," Campbell said.
Aside from "common sense" tips, drivers can purchase a starter disable switch, a hood lock cable (which prevents a thief from disabling the alarm by disconnecting battery) or a boot tire lock. Though many new cars are built with visual warning devices, which blink red when the vehicle is locked, they can be purchased at a local automotive stereo shop.
Campbell said if and when cars are stolen, officers try to identify the vehicle by looking for damage to windows, a broken door lock, torn-out ignition and an obscure parking lot. He said prior to vehicle theft, drivers can take certain precautions that could help officers track the vehicles and return them to their rightful owners. He suggested taking photographs of distinctive marks on cars, like license plate frames, damage marks and bumper stickers. He said drivers also can engrave the VIN number on various parts of the car with etching kits that can be purchased for about $25 from a local automotive shop.
According to Consumer Reports, a new car is stolen every 33 seconds in the United States. The top two cities
in which car thefts are most likely to happen include Modesto and Fresno, CA.