Consumer Education

Vehicle Theft Prevention

Protect your Vehicle from Theft

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For most Floridians, motor vehicles are our primary mode of transportation and an indispensable part of our lives. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is committed to helping consumers protect their investment by providing information on vehicle theft prevention.

In 2016, more than 760,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States. Vehicle theft is a multi-billion dollar crime, with nearly $6 billion in stolen vehicles in 2016 — up from $5 billion in 2015. Only 57 percent of stolen vehicles are ever recovered with summer months typically being the worst season for vehicle theft.

Stolen vehicles and motorcycles are frequently stripped of valuable parts and sold to unsuspecting consumers or in underground markets. To avoid purchasing a stolen vehicle, consumers should check the vehicle identification number (VIN) before they buy. DHSMV provides a free Motor Vehicle Information Check to assist with verifying ownership, odometer readings and salvage information.

As with vehicles and motorcycles, stolen vessels are frequently sold to unwary consumers. Every recreational marine vessel made or imported for sale in the United States after August 1, 1972, is required to have a hull identification number (HIN). Consumers should check that the HIN on the vessel exactly matches the HIN listed on the registration and/or title by visiting the Motor Vehicle Information Check.

Consumers can reduce their chances of becoming a victim of motor vehicle theft by:

  • Ensuring the vehicle or vessel is locked and the keys are removed;
  • Ensuring the vehicle or vessel is parked or stored in a secure, well-lit location;
  • Installing alarms or immobilizing devices; and
  • Subscribing to vehicle tracking systems.

If a person becomes a victim of vehicle or vessel theft, they should contact law enforcement immediately to file a report and contact their automobile or vessel insurance company within 24 hours to file a claim.

Safety Tips:

  • In parking lots and public garages, ensure the vehicle is locked and parked in a well-lit, secure location.
  • At home, do the 9pm routine! Check to make sure your vehicle and home are secure.
  • Remove keys and secure windows and doors when exiting the vehicle. Never leave a vehicle unattended while it’s running.
  • Thieves can strip a vehicle of parts in 30 minutes. If leaving a vehicle for an extended time, ensure that it is in a secure, high-traffic location with good lighting.
  • Never leave valuables in a vehicle, especially if they can be seen.
  • Check VIN or HIN before purchasing a used vehicle or vessel.
  • Install antitheft devices in the vehicle. Passenger vehicles account for 75 percent of stolen vehicles.
  • Just like vehicles and motorcycles, vessels are also vulnerable to thieves. Ensure the vessel is stored in a secure location and install a boat alarm or other antitheft device.

Resources

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Insurance Crime Bureau