Auto theft is at an all-time high, and Albuquerque has the highest rate of auto theft per-person in the United States according to new numbers from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Auto crimes extend beyond just the initial break-in or theft. Thieves may use your car to commit secondary crimes, use personal information found to perform financial and identity theft crimes, and use your GPS or other documents in your car to find your home address. We have put together some tips to protect yourself from auto crimes, and steps to take in the unfortunate event you do become a victim.
Don’t leave your car running unattended
This is more common in the winter months, but can happen at any time. While your car is warming up, never leave your keys in the ignition. Even if your car can be started without the key, your best bet is to stay with your vehicle while it is warming up.
Don’t leave valuables in your car
Many break-ins are smash-and-grab, and are done out of opportunity. Ensure you don’t leave valuables such as: phones, purses or wallets, and shopping bags in your car, whether visible or not. This can go a long way to prevent break-ins, or loss from break-ins.
Protect your personal information
Avoid leaving any documents with your name and address, or other personal information in your vehicle. This opens the door to home burglary as well as identity theft. Try to keep insurance cards and your registration in a locked glove compartment.
You should also avoid saving your home address in your car’s GPS. This step will further protect your home by preventing thieves from finding out where you live.
Be mindful of where you park your car
Thieves are looking for “easy targets” when they steal or break into a car. Keeping your car in a well-lit, public area or in your garage or driveway at home will help to deter thefts. When parking in a driveway, pull in forward and turn your wheel so the car cannot be easily rolled out by thieves.
In the event an auto theft or break-in happens to you
Contact your local police department to file a report. If it is just a break-in, document the scene and don’t move anything until an officer arrives. Have things like photos of the damage, a list of stolen items, and your registration and insurance information ready for your report.
Contact your insurance company to file your claim. Most insurance companies will require a police report to process a claim. Check your policy to see what is covered. Many homeowner insurance plans will cover items stolen from the car, while auto insurance will cover your damages.
Protect your identity. If you feel you may be at risk of identity theft, call your credit union right away. We can help you cancel cards or checks that may have been stolen. For more tips on protecting yourself from Identity theft, visit Experian.
Protect your home. Disable automatic garage door openers until you have a chance to reprogram it if thieves have stolen yours. It is common for them to obtain your home address from your insurance or registration and use the garage door opener to gain access.
Fix any damage to your car right away to keep your car from being vulnerable to further break-ins
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