The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) marked national Vehicle Theft Prevention Month by urging consumers to take steps to protect their vehicles from being stolen. Summertime is the season when most vehicle thefts occur. New York State has seen a steady reduction in the number of stolen vehicles in recent years and ranks as one of the safest states in the nation to own a vehicle.
“Next to a home, a car is often one of the biggest investments we make, so it makes sense to do all we can to protect it,” said DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “The DMV is proud of New York’s record in reducing car thefts and we will keep working with our law enforcement partners to see those numbers continue to decline.”
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, New York has the third lowest rate of vehicle thefts in the nation, based on population, behind only Vermont and Maine. There were 13,410 vehicles stolen statewide in 2017 compared to 15,736 stolen vehicles in 2014.
Based on the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2018 annual “Hot Spots” report, Watertown, Glens Falls, Kingston, Ithaca, and Elmira are among the 20 regions in the nation with the lowest percentage of car thefts.
Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that nearly half of all vehicle thefts occur when drivers fail to take simple safety precautions. NHTSA makes the following recommendations to protect yourself and your vehicle:
· Take your key; don’t leave it in or on your vehicle.
· Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
· Park in well-lit areas, in a garage if possible.
· Never leave valuables in your vehicle — especially where they are in sight.
NHTSA reports the top 10 stolen vehicles in 2017 were the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Camry, Ford F150, Nissan Altima, Toyota Corolla, Ford F250, Ford Econoline and Honda CR-V. NHTSA estimates that the annual cost of stolen vehicles to be nearly $6 billion nationwide.
DMV investigators work all year long to combat motor vehicle theft. Senior Investigators Antoine Rainville and William Corp of the DMV’s Division of Field Investigation were recently honored for helping to expose two criminal networks that were altering vehicle documents to defraud unsuspecting customers and conceal automotive theft.
To further decrease the number of motor vehicle thefts, New York State provides more than $3.7 million to the Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention program. Overseen by a 12-member board and supported by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, this program provides grant funding for two dozen law enforcement agencies and prosecutors serving urban communities with high rates of fraud and theft, so they can develop strategies to combat such crime.
“While New York continues to see a decrease in motor vehicle thefts, there is still continuous work that needs to be done to keep these numbers on the decline,” said Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green, who also serves as chairman of the Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Board. “DCJS is proud to partner with DMV and law enforcement agencies across the state to ensure communities are safer for all New Yorkers.”
If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police and your auto insurance company as soon as possible. The police will enter the information into national and state auto theft computer records. The theft will be noted on your vehicle title record to help prevent someone from selling the vehicle or applying for a title.
Consumers can learn more about what to do if a vehicle is stolen on the “Stolen and Recovered Vehicles” page on the DMV website. DMV also offers guidance on what to do if your license plates are stolen, whether they are taken with the car or stolen off the car, on our “Lost, Stolen or Destroyed Plates” page.
If you are buying a car and want to check whether it is stolen, you can go to the National Insurance Crime Bureau page to check by entering the Vehicle Identification Number.
Vehicle owners should also be wary of insurance lapses on stolen vehicles. New Yorkers can learn about protecting themselves by visiting our “Insurance Lapses on Stolen Vehicles” page.