Southern Traveler
h Home h Features h Departments h Web Bonus h Media Info h Reader Resources h Archives h space
Jul/Aug 2013 Issue

Vehicle theft spikes during summer

The dog days of summer in July and August are when most people try to relax, but it’s those months when car thieves are working like a dog to steal your car.

While a vehicle theft can happen at any time, the top two months for car thieves to strike are July and August, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During the summer, motorists leave their cars in their driveways more instead of in the garage, and they will leave their car windows down more frequently than during other times of the year.

In fact, 40 to 50 percent of vehicle theft is due to driver error, which includes leaving vehicle doors unlocked and leaving keys in the ignition or on the seat.

“The majority of auto thefts are crimes of opportunity where people leave their keys in the car,” said Sgt. Erik Eidson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Auto Theft Unit.

It doesn’t matter whether you live in a city, suburb, or rural area, everyone is susceptible, Eidson explained. If thieves happen upon a car with the doors unlocked or the windows down, it gives them the chance to either steal the car or its contents, including laptops, radios, GPS units, iPods, and purses.

A recent trend is the theft of catalytic converters, which contain valuable scrap metals. “They slide under your car with a saw and cut it off,” he said.

Overall, more than 715,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen nationwide in 2011, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, with a theft occurring about every 45 seconds. There were 15,317 vehicles stolen in Missouri, 28,769 vehicles taken in Illinois, 14,816 in Indiana, and 6,677 in Kansas.

“Don’t leave your keys in the car, lock the door, and park in a well-lit area,” said Eidson, noting that common sense is your best weapon against theft.

breaking in
More than 715,000 vehicles were stolen in 2011 nationwide at a cost of $4.3 billion.


Park smart to stop car thieves

  • Take your keys; don’t leave them in or on your vehicle.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas, in a garage if possible.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially in sight.
  • If you park in an attended lot, leave only the ignition/door key.
  • Never leave your vehicle running, even if you will only be gone for a minute.
  • Etch your vehicle identification number on car windows and major parts.
  • Install an antitheft device or system on your vehicle.


High school students named top techs in their states

Armed with wrenches, diagnostic tools, and a sense of urgency, teams across the country competed in the state finals of the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition this spring, and winners from each state advanced to the national finals.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is an automotive technology competition that offers millions in scholarships and prizes for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing careers as auto service technicians. The contest not only tests students’ automotive knowledge and workmanship but their problem-solving abilities.

Contestants faced a written test to qualify for the state finals, where they had to race against the clock to diagnose and repair intentionally “bugged” Ford vehicles. The top teams from each state advanced to the national finals in June (after press deadline for this issue) at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.

In Arkansas, Cabot High School students Blaine Waggoner and Matthew McBride were named best in the state at the finals in Little Rock. Their instructor is Bill McReynolds.

In Mississippi,  Kosciusko- Attala County Career Tech Center students Charlie Plunkett and Curtis Witt beat out nine other teams at the state finals in Jackson. Their instructor is Gerald Simmons.

In Louisiana, Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center students Forrest Bellue and Tyler Palmer took first place at the contest in Alexandria. Their instructor is Van Guarino.

Students competing in the
Arkansas contest.

^ to top | previous page