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Auto Theft


ALWAYS LOCK YOUR VEHICLE ... THIS REDUCES YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING AN AUTO THEFT VICTIM BY MORE THAN 60%.  The Visalia Police Department has a 87% recovery rate in terms of all vehicles stolen. Most are recovered within seven to ten days.

IF YOU ROLL UP YOUR WINDOWS...YOU HAVE REDUCED YOUR CHANCES OF AUTO THEFT BY UP TO 20%.  Nationwide, thefts of automobiles and thefts of property from inside automobiles results in an estimated value of over $17 billion a year loss to consumers.

REMOVING YOUR KEYS CAN REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING AN AUTO THEFT VICTIM BY UP TO 80%.  Along with the obvious loss of a vehicle, we all feel the effects of this crime through our insurance premiums. In 2006 auto theft cost insurance companies and consumers over 7.9 billon dollars.

ANTI-THEFT DEVICES MAY DETER THOSE THIEVES LOOKING FOR TRANSPORTATION. Anti-theft devices really work and most new cars now come with factory-installed theft devices. If your vehicle does not have a device, several are available on the market that provide the necessary protection. Many auto parts stores offer a variety of protection options such as steering wheel locks, remote fuel pump cutoff switches, ignition cutoff switches, hood locks, voltage sensing devices (which triggers an alarm when a power drain is detected),and motion sensing devices (which are activated by any disruption in the sound wave pattern), to name a few.

AVOID LEAVING YOUR CAR IN UNATTENDED PARKING LOTS FOR LONG PERIOD OF TIME.  A BUSY PLACE OFFERS A NATURAL DETERRENT TO AUTO THEFT.  Each year more than a million vehicles are stolen in the United States, about one vehicle every 25 seconds. This crime is made easier because car owners do not take necessary precautions. Most car thieves are amateurs who steal cars for transportation, i.e., "joy ridings."


There are several things buyers should be aware of when making private purchases:

  • Always buy a vehicle with a title.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Make sure all of the paper work matches, i.e., name, address, title information and numbers (if not, don't buy it).
  • Try to verify all information you are given by the seller. Make sure the seller is the owner named on the vehicle title. Don’t be afraid to ask for identification.
  • Be cautious if the seller does not have a local address, phone number or place of employment.
  • Check to make sure the public VIN plate (which is located on the drivers side dash) has not been re-painted, re-stamped or removed.
  • Be aware of people who will only deal on a cash basis.
  • Check all paperwork connected to the vehicle. Make sure all the numbers match.
  • Make sure you get all keys to the vehicle.
  • Make sure registration fees paid to the dealer are sent to the DMV promptly.
  • When selling a vehicle, always list yourself as lien holder until the vehicle is paid off.


WEEKEND: This suspect looks through the newspaper for a vehicle to buy. The transaction will be conducted on a Friday night with the thief assuming the victim will not cash the check until the next business day (Monday). The suspect will give the victim a fake check using false identification. Once the suspect has possession of the vehicle, he will immediately sell it to another innocent purchaser.

TEST DRIVE SCAM: This scam involves a suspect who shows up to purchase your car and asks if he can take the vehicle for a test drive so he can show his wife and children or have a mechanic check it out. The suspect sometimes will leave a small "deposit" and fake identification. The suspect will take the car, never to return again.

LOST TITLE SCAM: In this scam a suspect will "sell or trade" his stolen vehicle and tell the victim the vehicle title is lost or stolen. The suspect promises to send away for a new title as soon as possible. The deal is consummated. After a month or two, the victim attempts to contact the "seller" only to find that the identification is false and the vehicle traded or purchased actually has been stolen.

LEASE SCAM: This scam involves a suspect who will obtain credit in the name of another person who has good credit. The suspect then goes to a local dealership to lease a high-dollar vehicle for six months or a year. The suspect, still using fake identification, then goes to another state and sells the vehicle to an innocent person. When the lease is up, the dealership will report the car stolen. Once the vehicle is recovered, it is returned to the dealership or the insurance company. Meanwhile, the innocent purchaser is out both the vehicle and the money.

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