Car thefts down nationwide - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Car thefts down nationwide

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March 3, 2006

Albany-- Every 25.5 seconds, a vehicle is stolen in the United States. We all end up paying higher insurance rates because of that. But the number of thefts is actually going down nationwide.

Vehicle thefts in Albany have gone down three years in a row. In 2005, there were 329 thefts compared to 350 in 2004 and 400 the year before that. This is definitely a good sign, even better for your pockets.

A full tank of gas, an open door and a waiting purse on the seat is the perfect invitation for a car thief. "Use common sense. Make sure you don't have any valuables [in the car]," says driver Keisha Parker.

Cars are big investments and many drivers like Keisha Parker protect that investment. "Very protective. I don't let anybody drive it," says Parker. But sometimes that protection isn't enough. Guards are let down and vehicles go missing.

"By the time the consumer gets their vehicle back, it can be wrecked, damaged. Who knows? It may not even be drivable anymore," says Insurance Agent for Doherty, Duggan and Rouse Insurors Lydia Livingston. Many vehicles end up at wrecking businesses across the state. Recovery man John Dublin wheels them in.

"We get all kinds of cars, from old ones to new ones," says Dublin. When he found a stolen Explorer in October, the thieves made a mad dash and left a backseat full of stolen merchandise. "That's about the craziest thing I've seen so far, right there," says Dublin.

The cars have many stories. Some sit there for up to a year because the owners can't be located. "Months ago, it was real bad in auto thefts," says Dublin.

"If crime rates are going up, insurance rates are going to go up also," says Livingston.

Things have changed some. Now since thefts are down, something else can go down as well. "Insurance companies will look at thefts and statistics for 2005 and go back and compare them against 1995," says Livingston.

Many drivers could get a credit or a reduced insurance rate but it's not really worth it if the vehicle is gone. "You just wonder and you're scared," says Parker.

So maybe more savings will make more drivers practice common sense like locking doors and not leaving keys in the car.  With that, more could be sitting behind the wheel of their cars instead of watching them drive away.

The state has a list of the most popular stolen vehicles. The 1994 Honda Accord is at the top of the list and the 1996 Ford Taurus rounds out the top ten. There are more older cars on the list because it's harder to steal new cars thanks to technology such as warning devices, immobilization keys and tracking devices.

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