Car theft tips, tricks and tidbits

Stealing a car is just plain rude. Not only do thieves leave the vehicle’s owner stranded, but they probably make off with a cool CD collection they don’t even appreciate.

This could be your car/Ryn Gargulinski

This could be your car/Ryn Gargulinski

Goodbye, bootleg version of The Doors’ L.A. Woman.

Odds are the rightful owners are not going to get their vehicles back, either.

This year has already seen 629 motor vehicle thefts through the beginning of February, according to Tucson police statistics. Only seven have been recovered.

Last year saw 3,556 vehicles stolen with 12 recoveries, while 2008 had 5,687 thefts with 228 recovered. And that’s only within Tucson city limits.

Even with the high stats for 2008, Tucson car thefts were down from prior years. So were those across the whole state, thanks in part to Arizona’s Bait Car Program.

What a delightful concept.

Now in its seventh year, the program places decoy cars in strategic places. These vehicles are equipped with a GPS tracking device, cameras and audiotapes that go into action when the thief gets behind the wheel and starts the engine.

Dispatchers then work with police to track and stop the thieves.

The program runs on grants from the AATA and vehicles donated by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). It boasts a 99 percent conviction rate for thieves that are caught.

Car thefts in Arizona have dropped 40 percent since the program’s inception in 2003, the news release said. Not bad.

To be sure, no Arizona city made the most recent top 10 list of Car Theft Hot Spots, even with our proximity to the border.

Tucson made No. 9 in 2007 and No. 10 in 2006 while Phoenix made No. 4 for both of those years.

The Car Bait Program is helping, but common sense is another major factor for protecting our cars. Don’t leave the vehicle running with the doors unlocked – yes, I see this. Don’t park in dark alleys or leave mounds of money or other valuables in plain view. Get at least one type of deterrent, like an alarm system or disabling device. Know that driving a junker is not necessarily going to exempt you from thievery.

Car parts are sometimes more valuable than the vehicles themselves, especially when they go trekking down to Mexico to get dismembered and sold.

Air bags are hot commodities, with more than 75,000 nabbed every year, according to a Forbes article. While they get about $200 on the black market – yes, the airbag black market – it costs insurance companies and vehicle owners about $1,000 to replace them.

Maybe they should turn to the airbag black market.

Tires, rims and catalytic converters – which often contain precious metals – are other hot items, Forbes said.

No mention of the bootleg L.A. Woman.

Top 10 cars stolen in Arizona

1. 2004 Dodge Ram pickup
2. 1994 Honda Accord
3. 1995 Honda Civic
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2003 Ford F-250 Pickup
6. 1994 Nissan Sentra
7. 1990 Toyota Camry
8. 2006 Ford F-350 Pickup
9. 2000 Chevrolet 4×2 Pickup
10. 2004 Chevrolet 4×2 Extended Cab Pickup

Source: NICB

2008 Auto Theft Hot Spots

1. Modesto, Calif.
2. Loredo, Texas
3. Yakima, Wash.
4. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.
5. Bakersfield, Calif.
6. Stockton, Calif.
7. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
8. Albuquerque, N.M.
9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif
10. Fresno, Calif.

13. Tucson

Source: NICB


What do you think?

How do you protect your car?

Have you ever had a vehicle stolen? Did you get it back?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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18 Responses to Car theft tips, tricks and tidbits

  1. leftfield says:

    Good Morning, Ryn.  I must say, when I read the title “Car theft Tricks, Tips…, I thought I was going to learn something that might help me start a second career.  So I was a little disappointed; just like when I see a “Help Wanted” sign but the fine print says they’re looking for “friendly and honest people”.  There’s always a catch. 

    Seriously though, where can one pick up one of those bootleg copies of “LA Woman”?

    • Rynski says:

      morning, lefty. i DID sneak a few car theft tips in there, such as knowing to avoid cars that may be decoys, have microdots and VIN etching on windows.

      the top stolen vehicle list also gives insight into what chop shops are buying.

      i couldn’t make tips TOO obvious or i’d be accused of abetting criminals – just like i get an angry e-mail from what i believe is the same person every time i mention graffiti. it always reads something like:
      “dear (b-word), thanks a lot for telling kids about graffiti. it’s your fault kids turn to crime and tucson is the mess that it is.”
      (but they call tucson s-word, not “mess.”)
      while i’m honored someone thinks i have that much power, i don’t think it’s true.
      i WISH!!! i knew where to get a bootleg L.A. Woman. mine was ripped off in 1988 and my music collection has never been the same since.

  2. tiponeill says:

    I solved this problem by driving a clunker that no one would be interested in stealing.
    Don’t even have to lock it – makes life easy and no car payments either.

    • Rynski says:

      good solution, tip – glad it’s working…and just in case, keep CD collection far away from car (hhaha)

      • tiponeill says:

        Haven’t had CDs in a car for a decade – those of us in the know keep our CDs at home and copy them to  MP3 for outside use.

      • Ferraribubba says:

        Not so fast with the kudos, Rynski. In my years with APD, I learned that there are at least two major reasons that your auto may be stolen.
        The first is the obvious, someone may want it for financial gain. Sell it in Mexico or it may end up in a chop-shop, etc.
        Another reason may be that someone may want a ride to a Taco Bell in a clunker just like the Tipster drives. That way the rolling trash can wouldn’t look out of place with the back-seat full of  burrito wrappers, empty pop cans, etc.
        The car thief could ride around town all night on the Tipster’s gas, not his own, if he didn’t mind being seen in a jalopy.
        Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • Rynski says:

        thanks for add’l info, ferraribubba. but at least the jalopy drivers wouldn’t get any CDs out of the deal (haha).

  3. radmax says:

    My bosses’ 4×4, complete with trailer, ATV’s and all her camping equipment was stolen outside a bowling alley.(I know, that was my first question too) 🙂
    They got the truck back minus some aftermarket suspension parts and sans tires and rims. No such luck on the rest of her stuff. The ironic part was that her niece saw the thief drive off with the rig, said he was very casual about the whole thing. Musta been a pro, as they had every security device known to man on the thing.
    security devices are surely a deterrent, but if a professional thief wants your stuff-you better have dang good insurance.

    • Rynski says:

      heya radmax,
      wow that STINKS on the camping/ATV/etc. heist. outside a bowling alley, no less. geesh. hope she did have insurance to cover the missing items.
      thanks for reminder that security devices help but aren’t nec. foolproof.

      • radmax says:

        Yeah, they have beaucoup insurance. Oh, afternoon Rynski! Shame about the Doors bootleg. I’ll see if I can MP3 Rocket the sucker and send you a copy. 😉

      • Rynski says:

        good for beaucoup insurance…and thanks for scouring for the bootleg!

  4. Mike says:

    I’ve been in Tucson now for a year… my truck was broken into the first week I was in town — In my own driveway! I’ve since added security to the house and the cars. And yes, they got my CD collections… no LA Woman but still stings the same.

    • Rynski says:

      hey mike,
      poo! on the CD collection – it always stings because good CD collections take a lot of time and creativity to build. in my case, it’s also often my fave CDs that end up in the car.
      glad you upped your security on house and cars – what a creepy thing car was broken into on driveway.
      i park in garage, but still get warnings from nabe newsletter that it’s best to lock car even in garage. even a garage connected to the house won’t deter them if they are determined.
      heck, they may just take it as an invited to come in the house, too.

  5. Jennatoolz says:

    Heya Ryn!! A couple years ago, I had a 94 Honda Civic (which looks dang close to the ’95 Civic on that there list) and one night, some friends and I were at some apartment complex, swimming and havin’ a splash! When we went to leave, my dang car was gone!! Someone had stolen it!! I was so mad because I had just gotten it about a month prior to that (I borrowed money from my mom, and I had to pay her back regardless). Luckily, I got the car back 4 days later…minus my cool stereo and all my speakers…not to mention I had left my purse in there that night, so that was obviously nowhere to be found. The car was outta gas and filled with Taco Bell trash, so whoever took it sure had a nice time while I was stressing out hardcore! It was undamaged, and still driveable, so that was all I cared about. Damn thieves… 😛

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jeanna,
      that is crummy! hope they didn’t spill taco bell hot sauce on upholstery. jerks.
      glad you did get car back – and hopefully replaced all ID, etc. that was stolen if it was in your purse.
      thankfully i’ve never had car stolen – knock formica – but have been ripped off in other areas (like car broken into and stuff stolen, hence the L.A. Woman fiasco) – had wallet stolen once on pay day of course, back when i used to get paid in cash, of course.
      it was a nightmare replacing ID – had to get parents to come vouch for who i was!

  6. Hoosier Woman says:

    When I lived in Tucson I never had my car stolen or broken into. I always locked it. But I did have my license plate stolen once!

    • Rynski says:

      hiya hoosier woman,
      glad to hear you’ve had no auto theft troubles…but a stolen license plate doesn’t sound fun. hope the state replaces stolen plates at no charge (haha).
      perhaps the thief wanted to make a bird house roof out of the license plate, as one of my friends used to do.

  7. Cole says:

    Severe punishments against this crime should really be implemented to prevent this type of things to happen. Just make sure you lock your car doors all the time and remember safety of yourselves first.

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