Auto theft is a problem for all Americans, but the citizens of New Mexico face a particular issue that affects our auto theft rate.
Due to the fact that we are adjacent to an International Border, we are always ranked high on the list for theft rates. Typically, vehicles are stolen for one of three reasons. They are used to joy ride, sell for parts, or driven across the border for resale. However, you can take a variety of steps to insure that you are not a victim of auto theft. Observe the following tips to reduce the chances of your vehicle from being stolen.
- Lock your car and take your keys with you even when parked in your driveway.
- Do not hide a spare key on the vehicle
- Motion-sensor lights mounted over the garage will discourage thieves and alert you to the presence of unwanted "visitors" at night. In side your home, these devices can even be wired to set off an audio alarm.
- Park in a well-lighted area, close to a corner with foot-traffic. To make your vehicle more easily visible, back into the parking space, and, if possible park at the end of the row and toward the light source
- Roll up the windows completely.
- Remove keys from ignition.
- Avoid leaving a vehicle parked unattended in a public parking lot for a long time.
- When parking in attended lots or parking garages, leave only the ignition key with the attendant. Older-model vehicle keys and other attached keys could be duplicated.
- Make sure the attendant or valet is actually the authorized attendant. Never have a tag with your name/address on the keyring.
- Always park with the wheels turned toward the curb and apply the emergency brake. This will prevent towing.
- Place valuables out of sight.
- If you have a garage, use it. Vehicles are least safe parked at the curb, more safe in the driveway and most safe in the garage.
- Lock your garage door.
- Do not leave your car running while it is unattended.
- Back your car into the driveway. If you drive forward into the driveway, a car thief could raise the hood to hot wire the car, and it would appear to the neighbors that you were just working on the car.
- Do not leave the car title in the vehicle. Doing so makes it easy for the thief to sell the car.
- Etch VIN number on windshields, and write it in crayon under the hood and trunk. Also, print the VIN on some business cards and hide in a few locations in the unit: down door panels and behind seats.
The APD Crime Prevention Unit has Vehicle Information Cards (V.I.C.) that are available to the public. These cards are for you to record information about your vehicle including the year, make, model, color(s), identifying marks, license plate number and state, VIN, who the registered owner is, the insurance covailable to the public. These cards are for you to record information about your vehicle including the year, make, model, color(s), identifying marks, license plate number and state, VIN, who the registered owner is, the insurance company and the policy number.
Contact the Crime Prevention Unit at 924-3600 to obtain these cards for each of your vehicles. Crime prevention specialists suggest that each member of the family who is licensed to drive, carry on their person a completed card for each family vehicle. The purpose of the card is so any victim of a vehicle theft or carjacking who carries a card can report vital identification information on the vehicle as quickly as possible, without waiting for an officer to arrive to take a report.
V.I.C. cards are not legal documents and should not be accepted for personal identification or legal transactions involving motor vehicles.
APD hopes that eventually every motor-vehicle owner in the metropolitan area will keep and use the V.I.C. cards to assist law enforcement in tracking and returning stolen vehicles before they permanently disappear, are damaged, or are used in the commission of another crime.
Free V.I.C. cards are available at each APD substation, and will be distributed by APD sworn and civilian personnel, or call 924-3600 to receive cards by mail.
Cards in limited amounts are available to clubs, businesses and organizations. However, businesses and other groups wanting large amounts should arrange to order and pay for them on their own through Richard's Printing, 719 San Mateo NE.
Theft Prevention Devices
After years of false alarms, people have stopped paying attention to alarms. Any serious anti-theft device must do more than just make noise. If you want an audio alarm; use it in conjunction with other forms of prevention.
The longer it takes to steal a car, the more attention a thief will attract. Look for devices that are: highly visible, hard to defeat, and will prevent the car from starting or will kill the engine shortly after it is stolen. To prevent "hot-wiring," protect the steering column.
- A kill switch is a simple toggle device that shuts off the engine's ignition system.
- Steering wheel locks are visible from outside the car and prevent the steering wheel from being turned more than a few degrees.
- Collars are devices that prevent the steering column from being stripped.
- Brake locks prevent the brake from being engaged and therefore the transmission cannot be removed from the park position.
- Wheel locks prevent the vehicle from being moved in any direction.
- Etching vehicle parts with your VIN number can also be a deterrent. Professional thieves shy away from vehicles that have had the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into the doors, windows, windshield, engine block, and other parts.
More than 2/3 of all auto thefts take place at night, and over half occur in residential areas including apartment complexes. ; Statistically, most cars are stolen between the hours or 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. There is a program in New Mexico that will help you retrieve your car if it is stolen. The New Mexico State Police has developed a program called Watch Your Car. Once registered, the program allows any enforcement personnel to pull over a vehicle with the appropriate sticker between those hours to verify ownership. It also allows them to stop the vehicle if it approaches an international border 24 hours a day. If you are interested in finding out more about the program, contact your local NM State Police office for further details.
The goal in preventing auto theft is to establish multiple layers of protection for you vehicle. Thieves are looking for the least path of resistance. Although no method is foolproof, consider where you park, theft prevention devices, and etching. However, spending money on anti-theft devices does not help if drivers don't follow the basic precaution of locking their cars, taking the key, and activating the anti-theft device.
Contact NM Motor Vehicle Department
In addition to reporting the theft to APD, you may also wish to contact the NM Motor Vehicle Department (Albuquerque: 841-2455) to cancel the registration. This is to prevent the stolen unit from being re-registered by the thief, using falsified documents. Sometimes vehicles reported stolen are actually "borrowed" by a relative or friend. Advise police immediately of the report status change.
APD Crime Prevention 924-3600