Security systems and anti-theft devices
Statistics - Each year, more than a million vehicles are stolen in the United States with a car stolen every 23 seconds, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The odds of your car being taken were 1 in 171 in 1998, says the III. Car thieves, like home burglars, generally have an easy time, made simple by car owners who obligingly leave doors unlocked (in 4 out of 5 cases of auto theft) or who leave keys in the ignition (in 1 out of 5 cases).
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), almost 24% of Americans surveyed had anti-theft devices on their vehicles. However, of those with anti-theft devices, 25% said they do not always activate them. Spending money on anti-theft devices doesn't help if drivers don't follow the basic precaution of locking their cars, taking the key and activating the anti-theft device they have installed.
Costs - Auto theft, a $7.5 billion business, continues to grow despite a declining rate of theft across the country, according to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report. In 1998, thieves stole 8.4 percent fewer cars than in 1997, but the average value of each motor vehicle stolen was $6,030, up 11 percent from 1997's $5,416, resulting in an overall dollar increase of $200 million over 1997.
What can you do?
The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) predicts consumers will spend over $400 million this year for electronic devices to protect their vehicles from theft. You may not need to spend large amounts of money to combat car thieves in your area; your risk depends on your location. Any combination of the following theft prevention schemes can significantly reduce your risk. Experts recommend a five tiered system customized to your vehicle and geographic location (remember your behavior and your location significantly influence your vehicle's risk of being stolen).
"Motorists driving theft-prone vehicles need to take additional steps such as installing a visible deterrent like a steering wheel lock, an alarm, a starter or fuel disabler and a tracking device," says Robert Bryant, president and chief executive officer of NICB, the insurance industry's theft and fraud fighting organization "The more layers of protection on your vehicle, the more difficult it is to steal."
- The first step is to use good judgment, park your vehicle in well-lit areas, always remove your keys, and lock the doors.
- The second step is to use an alarm system that has sirens and flashing lights that call attention to a vehicle in the midst of a theft.
- The third step uses anti-theft hardware like steering wheel/brake pedal locks, steering wheel covers & shields, and armored steering column collars. They can all be custom-installed for your individual make and model. These items will stop most joy-riders, but experienced thieves can quickly dismantle them.
- The fourth step involves immobilizing devices such as ignition cutoffs, and starter and fuel system disablers.
- The fifth and highest level of protection involves the use of sophisticated electronic tracking devices such as LoJack.
Movement inhibitors (immobilizer) as anti theft system:
Movement inhibitors may be mechanical or automatic electronic system. Mechanically at least one locking member that can be inserted into at least one inhibitor to prevent at least one wheel from turning by utilizing a long steel bar that hooks and locks onto the steering wheel or by preventing inadvertent movement of a motor vehicle gear shift selector brake interlock mechanism, between a non-drive "park" or "neutral" position, and a "drive" position. Steering columns lock inhibitor for fixed and adjustable steering columns preferably without a shifting function. Shield type devices are available to adjust to fit most steering wheels, one-, two-, and three-spoke.
Statistics in Australia (provided by CarSafe) show that 3 out of 4 vehicle thefts are older cars stolen for joyriding, transport or to commit another crime. Immobilizers are fitted to around 45% of all cars in Australia, but only 7% of those that are stolen. In many instances, where a vehicle fitted with an immobilizer has been stolen, the thief had access to the original key. Only around 1 in 4 vehicles are stolen by professional thieves. The majority of vehicles are stolen by opportunistic thieves relying on finding older vehicles that have ineffective security or none at all. An engine immobilizer will deter opportunistic thieves.
So many types of automatic electronic systems are available in the market. Here are some given. An ARM ENABLE latch and an ARM latch which establish a circuit arming condition in response to movement of a key operated switch from a neutral to an arming position. Another system is the Power Lock that needs professionally installed on to the starter that will prevent a vehicle from being started and driven away.
Passive anti-theft systems (PATS), like Ford's patented SecuriLock T" systems; protect against theft by requiring a specially coded ignition key. The vehicle starts and operates only with the key that matches the sensor in the vehicle, thwarting attempts to hot-wire the ignition. An indicator lamp shows the system is working.
Manufacturers offer immobilization systems
Recent-model Mercedes-Benz vehicles are fitted with a "smart key" system instead of the traditional mechanical key. Smart key uses a difficult-to-mimic infrared exchange of data to tell the car to start. The usual method of breaking the steering column and stealing the car is no longer mechanically possible. "A two-bit car thief is simply not going to be successful," says Fred Heiler, public relations manager at Mercedes-Benz Corp. "It has to be a real pro." Despite this, Mercedes-Benz has taken even greater measures to ensure that their cars cannot be stolen. Year 2000 models are fitted with an in-car tracking system. "That should make a dramatic difference," Heiler says. He explains that the system is activated only after the owner has reported the car stolen, so as not to invade a rightful driver's privacy. However, "as soon as the owner reports the theft, we take action and track the vehicle."
Other European manufacturers offer electronic keys that contain a transmitter that sends an ID code to the engine management system. If the code does not match, the vehicle will not start. It is interesting to note that both the CCCIS & NICB Top Ten Stolen Vehicle Lists consist entirely of vehicles whose manufacturers don't offer electronic immobilizer key systems.
Installing an anti-theft system in your own vehicle
Pay a competent professional to wire it, install it, and test it. Don't attempt to do it yourself! There's too much complexity in today's vehicles for an untrained person to be cutting into a vehicle's electronics. There's a real chance of getting injured if you install the alarm yourself, especially if your vehicle has air bags. One misplaced connection can blow up a computer or accidentally activate your supplemental restraint systems.
Work with a reputable installer
Find an alarm-system seller and installer who is Mobile Electronics Certification Program (MECP)-certified. Check with the Better Business Bureau before you take your car in. Look for a shop that is clean and well organized. Ask employees for pictures of previous installations; take a close look at any jobs currently under way. Shops that won't let you see the installation area are trying to hide something. Installers that do good work are proud of it and are eager to show it off. Finally, once the system is installed, ask the technician to show you how it works, and don't leave until you're comfortable with its operation. In addition, you should make sure that all of your car's other electrical functions radio, headlights, and horn, for example are working after the alarm has been installed. Finally, you want to know the shop's warranty on its work and get it in writing.
More effort for your vehicles security systems and anti-theft devices:
Day by day technology changing to safeguard our vehicles with an auto alarm system or anti-theft device. Here are some more:
There are removable stereos and GPS systems that can be tucked away while a vehicle is unattended, therefore making a vehicle less enticing to a thief. Using GPS or a form of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) to allow for easy location of the vehicle. The GPS satellite system was built and is maintained by government and is available at no cost to civilians. This makes this technology very inexpensive. Other AVL systems do not require the antenna to be in direct line of sight with the sky. Terrestrial based systems such as Loran and LoJack tracking units use radio frequency (RF) transmitters which will transmit through walls, garages, or buildings. Many police cruisers around the world have a form of AVL tracking as standard equipment in their vehicles.
Some vehicle tracking systems incur a cost to the user in the form of monthly fees. Companies such as StreetEagle, Track Star, and USAT Corp. bundle mapping software, with hardware, installation and tracking into monthly subscriptions. Other companies such as the LoJack units are paid for upon installation and will continue to work for the life of the vehicle.
The LoJack Early Warning System provides a routine entry into the state crime database will find a match between the car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and its unique LoJack Code. Small radio transceiver then begins to emit an inaudible signal that law enforcement uses to track the stolen vehicle's location. Another system named Ravelco; a system is installed under or flush mounted in the dash. A removable plug makes all the electronic connections. When the plug is removed, it is impossible to start or run the vehicle.
The decision to adopt an active technology based on RF (e.g. Loran), satellite or public carrier (e.g. CDMA) is driven by the quantity of information, the frequency of updates, and the physical environment of the device. For example a fleet manager may want 5 minute updates, telling whether a vehicle is on or off, or may want 30 second updates tracking engine vitals, brake status, container status, vehicle speed and direction and so on.
In an effort to reduce car theft in Central Iowa, AAA Minnesota/Iowa offered free VIN Etchings. VIN etching involves the use of a stencil and glass etching paste to etch your car's vehicle identification number onto its windshield and windows. This makes your car less attractive to thieves because it means thieves will have to replace the glass (at considerable cost) before they can sell the stolen vehicle. Most motor vehicle theft involves dismantling the vehicle and selling its parts which are not registered and for which there is a large market, or by moving the vehicle to another country, where the local authorities may not be linked to the same database or such protections may not be in place.
Insurance company discounts for anti-theft devices
Twelve states (Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington) require insurers to give car owners discounts on their comprehensive insurance for anti-theft devices. Passive devices (such as ignition cutoffs, some types of alarms, and electronic auto recovery systems, activated automatically when the car is locked, not requiring the driver to remember to activate them) may qualify for up to a 30 percent discount. Massachusetts residents are eligible for a minimum 25 percent discount if they have both an anti-theft device and an auto recovery system. In New Jersey and Georgia, the Insurance Commissioner may order discounts and encourage insurers to provide discounts. Insurance companies in states that do not mandate discounts have also encouraged car owners to install anti-theft devices by providing discounts. Generally, insurers favor passive devices. Other deterrents qualify drivers for insurance discounts, which vary by state and insurer.