RALEIGH – July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month and the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is reminding drivers to keep their cars, trucks and other vehicles safe.
“The best way to prevent vehicle theft, is to be aware of your surroundings,” said Steve Watkins, director of NCDMV’s License & Theft Bureau, which investigates vehicle theft. “Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity and happens quickly,” he warned.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a vehicle is stolen every 45 seconds and 42 percent of the vehicles are never recovered. Vehicle theft is a billion-dollar crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles coming in at more than $5 billion in 2015 alone.
In 2015, more than 13,000 vehicles were reported stolen in North Carolina, but only 1,287 arrests were made to recover 25 percent of the vehicles. In that same year, the License and Theft Bureau recovered 915 vehicles valued at $7.8 million. For 2016, those numbers increased by 7% to 984 recovered vehicles at $8.5 million. The state’s most popular stolen vehicles were 1997 Honda Accords and full-size 2004 Ford pickup trucks.
As a reminder, there are several ways for drivers to help prevent vehicle theft:
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Lock all windows and doors when you park.
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended while it is running.
- Do not leave your keys in your vehicle.
- Always conceal your valuables.
Founded in 1921, the NCDMV’s License and Theft Bureau is the state’s oldest law enforcement agency. In addition to vehicle theft, the License and Theft Bureau investigates identity fraud, title fraud and enforces regulations for the state’s emissions inspection stations.
If you have questions about vehicle theft or fraud, citizens can contact the NCDMV’s License and Theft Bureau at 919-861-3143 or visit MyNCDMV.com and search “License and Theft.”