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Avoiding Classic Car Theft

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On: Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 1:52PM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

Avoiding Classic Car Theft

Week after week, my heart breaks for my fellow collector car owners who fall victim to car theft. It seems like every time I look for parts for my classic, I run into craigslist ads that read something like “Please keep an eye out for my mint condition (insert classic car here), stolen from my garage”, and so on. Here’s some information you need to keep your classic better protected.

I wanted to present you with a list of the most stolen collector vehicles/classic cars, but the most recent study was done from 1999 to 2002 and published by Hagerty Protection Network in 2003. Still, judging by the rising price of collectibles, this list is worth a glance.

Here are the most stolen classics:
– 13.3% Chevrolet Corvette (1966-1982)
– 6.5% Ford Mustang (1964-1969)
– 5.6% Chevy Impala (1958-1967)
– 4.7% Chevrolet Camaro (1968, 1969)
– 3.6% Chevrolet Nova (1963-1972)
– 2.7% Chevrolet Chevelle (1966-1973)
– 2.4% Chevrolet Monte Carlo (1970-1978)
– 2.1 % Cadillac DeVille (1955-1965)
– 2.1% Chevrolet Pickups (1950-1971)
– 2.1% Mercedes 450 (1975-1979)
– 1.7% Ford Thunderbird (1955-1963)
– 1.7% Lincoln Continental (1964-1977)

Are you surprised by the list? I’m not, not really. The reality is, classic car owners already know this, and they’re pretty terrified of losing their vehicle tok crooks. A friend of mine lost his El Camino that had been in the family since it was brand new, and it vanished just like a ghost—three years later and no one has ever spotted/reported seeing this unique-looking vehicle. Sadly, this is a really common story because it doesn’t take much to lose your classic and never see it again.

Classic cars are very easy to steal; due to a lack of factory security features, they’re hard to track, and there’s a huge market for both entire cars and parts for them.

Preventing theft actually begins with your behavior—you should always keep the VIN of your classic covered at car shows, and when parked (if legal in your area). It’s a common practice for criminals to troll car shows to collect VIN information to order keys for a vehicle, find out the residence, even get a new title so they can sell your car before you even realize what happened.

It’s also a good idea to not talk about the details of your car publicly and online. Don’t give forum goers any ideas about how to break into your car and what to do to get away with it in a hurry.

Otherwise, a combination of devices is what I use; one product isn’t going to stop anyone.

Here’s a list of choices for security (beyond the technology choices):
• The good ole club—it’s rudimentary, but it can help. These devices work by locking the steering wheel.
• Battery cut-off switches kill the power to the car when you want. If you have this system on your car, hide it well and the crook will be stumped as to why your car won’t start for a quick get-away.
• Remove the distributor cap when you’re leaving your car for a while.
• Pull the fuse for the fuel pump.

You’d be surprised how easily these little tricks will protect your car, but there’re obviously some more advanced systems out there. Lo-Jack and GPS systems can gather real-time tracking information on your car, but those usually also require a monthly subscription for service.

The best thing you can do is keep current information and photos of your car, stay vigilant, try to slow down the car thieves, but if it comes down to your life or the car, just give it up and hope it gets found soon -- no vehicle is worth your life!


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