The National Insurance Crime Bureau has compiled a list of tips to prevent vehicle theft during the cold weather season.
Of the various factors that can increase your risk for vehicle thefts, there are some that specifically apply to the cold weather season. In the winter, many vehicle owners prefer to heat up their cars before heading out. An individual might go out to their vehicle and start it up, turn on the heat, then head back inside before driving to work. If a company’s employees are doing this with their business fleet vehicles, it not only puts the employee at risk, but their business vehicles as well.
In most cases, the vehicle is left unlocked when a theft occurs in the winter. It is most often due to wanting to leave it running while the heat is on. Not only does this occur in the morning when getting ready for work, but fleet drivers often leave their vehicle running when making deliveries or picking up supplies. They assume they will only be gone for a few moments, get distracted, and the vehicle has had items or inventory stolen by the time they return.
Thieves are smart and know that people are tempted to do this, so many thefts of this kind increase during the cold weather season. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found an increase of thefts where the door was unlocked and keys were inside, usually still in the ignition. In Nashville, 22 cars were stolen in the winter, 10 of which still had the keys inside because they were keeping the vehicle warm until they returned.
Some newer models of vehicles don’t have this concern because many of the functions, like turning on the heat, is done without a key in the ignition. However, other vehicles make a large sound while remaining idle, which can attract the attention of thieves looking for cars to steal. Leaving a vehicle of any sort with keys in the ignition is even illegal in some areas, as the idling causes puffs of exhaust to release through the tailpipe and into the air. For example, this is illegal in Colorado, and they have some hefty fines if someone is caught doing it.
To prevent thefts in the winter, the NICB encourages all drivers to take the keys with them anytime they exit the vehicle, and be sure it is locked. If they are not going to be gone long, the vehicle should still be plenty warm by the time they return. They also recommend not warming up a vehicle in an enclosed space without ventilation, such as a garage. To further protect your business from cold weather vehicle thefts, have a business auto insurance policy and a commercial crime insurance policy.