Auto Theft Prevention
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the nation's leading non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft, a vehicle is stolen every 33 seconds in the United States, which means roughly 1 million vehicles are stolen each year. Car thefts can occur anytime—at random on different days of the week and times of the day. Auto thefts occur with greater frequency where large groups of cars are parked for extended periods of time, such as shopping centers, colleges, sporting events, movie complexes or large apartment complexes.*
NICB's annual Hot Spots list tracks the cities that lead the nation in auto thefts. While 52 percent of stolen vehicles are found, many unrecovered autos are shipped overseas and sold on the black market, stripped at a chop shop and sold for parts or resold to unsuspecting consumers, according to the NICB.
Precautionary measures can minimize your chances of becoming a victim of auto theft. Here are some tips you can use to minimize the likelihood that you will be a victim:
- Never leave your car running unattended.
- Never leave any keys in the car or ignition—even inside a locked garage, or in hide-a-key boxes.
- Always close your windows and lock the car—even if it is parked in front of your house.
- Never leave valuables or packages in plain view—even if your car is locked.
- When possible, park in high-traffic and well-lit areas.
- Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column or brakes.
- Consider a security / tracking system, such as a LoJack, Teletrac or OnStar.
- Never leave personal identification documents, such as the vehicle ownership title or credit cards, in your car.
- Leave only the ignition key, when leaving your car with a valet, attendant or mechanic.
If you are a victim of auto theft, and Mercury's your insurer, here are some tips that may help to expedite the process of filing a claim:
Call Mercury's Claims Hotline: 1-800-503-3724
When filing a claim
- Contact Mercury immediately to report your loss.
- Prepare to file your claim by having your policy number in hand.
- Remember to provide claims adjusters with alternate (mobile) contact phone numbers.
- Offer photos of your car to your claims adjuster if these are available.
- Contact the police - they will advise if they need to respond.
*About.com Crime / Punishment, "Auto Theft Prevention Tips."