Arizona Auto Theft-Deterrent

Trends in Phoenix Arizona

There are a number of reasons that contribute to the vehicle theft problem in Arizona, according to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA). Arizona has experienced a dramatic population increase over the past 20 years. The 2006 Census indicates that Arizona’s estimated population is 6,166,318. This reflects an increase of more than 1 million people since 2000. There is a rather transient nature of our population, with many people living in multi-family housing units, such as apartments and condominiums. In these types of residential areas, vehicles are at greater risk to be stolen. And due to the dry, moderate climate in Arizona, our vehicles tend to maintain higher values.

Perhaps the greatest influence on Arizona’s vehicle theft problem is due to the proximity with Mexico. Research indicates that the highest motor vehicle theft vicinities are major metropolitan areas near seaports or international borders. There are seven official ports-of-entry along the 354-mile Arizona-Mexico border, and major California seaports are less than eight hours away.

One of law enforcement’s biggest problems is that most vehicle thefts occur at night, and it is typically hours later the victim discovers their vehicle is gone. A stolen vehicle can be stripped for parts, used to facilitate other crimes, or smuggled into Mexico before the owner realizes it is missing.

Arizona Auto Thefts Since 2000


Number of Auto Thefts




















The “Layered Approach” To Protect Your Vehicle

Professional thieves can steal any car, but an owner’s vigilance and preparation can make the likelihood of his/her vehicle being stolen less likely. The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends the following:

Layer #1 – Common Sense

  • Lock your car – half of all vehicles stolen are left unlocked.
  • Take your keys – nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen have the keys in them.
  • Park in well-lit areas – car thefts occur at night more than half the time.
  • Park in attended lots – car thieves do not like witnesses.
  • Do not leave your vehicle running and unattended.
  • Completely close your car windows.
  • Do not leave valuables in plain view.
  • Do not hide a spare set of keys in the car – the pros know where to look.
  • Park with your wheels turned toward the curb.
  • Always use your emergency brake when parking.
  • If you have a garage, use it – when you do, lock both the vehicle and the garage door.

Layer #2 – Warning Devices

The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular second layer devices include:

  • Audible alarms
  • Steering wheel locks
  • Steering column locks
  • Brake locks
  • Tire locks
  • Watch Your Car decals
  • Identification markers in or on vehicle
  • Protective Window Laminate
  • Microdots applied to various surfaces on vehicle, which are imprinted with identification information
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on vehicle windows

Layer #3 – Immobilizing Device

This third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle.

Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated.

Popular third layer devices include:

  • Smart keys
  • High security locks and keys
  • Fuse cut-offs
  • Kill switches
  • Starter, ignition and fuel disablers

Layer #4 – Tracking Device

The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to a police or monitoring station when the vehicle is reported stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.

  • Keep a photocopy of your vehicle registration and insurance card in your wallet or at home. This will enable you to provide information quickly to law enforcement and your insurance claims agent.
  • Etch the VIN number on all window glass of the vehicle.
  • Review your insurance policy annually. Don’t wait until after your vehicle is stolen to find out you don’t have the coverage you though you had. Owners are advised to review their auto insurance policies once a year.

Exercise caution if you see someone tampering with your car. Call 911 as quickly as possible.

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