6 February 2015

Keep The Bad Guys Away

With little investment, it’s easy to protect your classic from theft

When you own a classic car, you usually focus on the drives you take, the shows you attend or the projects that keep it in excellent condition — experiences that make you feel warm and fuzzy. It’s also worth spending a little time focusing on some areas that give you the opposite feelings, like theft and hope for recovery.

Classic car theft is rare. Less than 1/10 of 1 percent of classic cars are stolen every year.* Thefts are most likely in large cities or in these states: California, Florida, New York, Texas and Michigan. Corvettes, Impalas, Mustangs, Chevelles and Camaros are the five cars most likely to be stolen. Essentially, the risk of theft is higher in popular areas and with more popular cars.

More details describing the nature of thefts come from Joe Stephenson, Managing Director of Hagerty Insurance Agency's Special Investigations Unit. Many cars are stolen right from the owner’s driveway when left outside overnight or parked for sale. Many cars are stolen from remote areas of parking lots (ostensibly where they’ve been parked to minimize door dings) during errands. Another portion of thefts happens in spectator parking at car shows. Mitigation for these types of risks is pretty straightforward. Parking indoors at home, parking in high-visibility areas in parking lots (preferably where a video camera is in use), and participating directly in a show are all safer options.

Beyond these practices, modifications and accessories can reduce the risk of theft or increase the likelihood of recovery. Since thieves seek the easy target, anything that makes it inconvenient to steal the car will diminish risk. Hidden electrical cutoffs can confound a thief enough to take a pass. Alarms with sirens and/or ignition cutoffs are another option. Accessory locking devices like a steering wheel “club” or clamp-on wheel boot are another choice.

Even with the best preventative parking, modifications, or accessories, some cars still will get stolen. In these cases, a tracking device is a proven way to help law enforcement find a vehicle. Tracking devices using GPS technology can be priced below $100. While useful, they have their limits when a car loses its signal from satellites, as often happens when parked indoors. Higher-end units, like the LoJack for Classics (starting at $695, installed plus subscription), use radio frequencies and will operate within most obstructed areas. Unfortunately, these aren’t available for all geographic areas of the country. Even so, with recovery rates around 90 percent, they’re worth considering.

With the right practices and minor modifications to improve security, that warm fuzzy feeling can remain the most important part of your classic car experience.

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