Gary Cutler, the Hay County Sheriff, said in a FOX29 interview over Easter weekend that they received three reports involving pickup trucks. The authorities found the three cases are similar as the culprits disassembled the taillights from the truck’s body and cut the wirings.
Theft cases on pickup trucks do not happen only in Texas. It is also a rampant crime in other states. But why do thieves usually target Ford pickups over other truck brands?
ABC13 Houston reported a taillight theft incident in 2021. The owner parked his Ford F-250 in the Greenway Plaza area, where many pickup trucks and other vehicles were parked. While the owner was at work, he didn’t realize that burglars would target his F-250 in the parking lot. After being gone for about 3 hours, the owner noticed that the taillights on his truck were missing.
On the forum site Ford-Trucks.com, you can also find a posting about missing taillights on a 2017 Platinum F-250. The original poster said that the rear light assembly on his truck and three other pickups in the neighborhood were stolen in the middle of the night.
It did not make sense for a lot of Ford truck owners why robbers would go after the taillights only. The missing lighting parts seem like a “no big deal.” However, the missing parts cost about a thousand bucks per taillight if you buy them from an OEM parts dealer.
Theft rates in the US
Burglary rates were up in many cities in the United States. In previous years, Texas was the leading state with the most reported incidents of theft. But in 2020, California toppled Texas with 168,322 reports, while Florida is in the third spot.
For the last five years, pickup trucks have been the constant targets of car thieves. According to the Annual Hot Wheels report of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Ford’s full-size truck has been on the top list of most stolen vehicles in America.
The crime rate has increased to 13.09 percent since 2019. It currently has more than 44,000 reported incidents. Due to the increasing rate of reports on missing Ford pickup models or their particular trucks parts, the authorities have branded it a rampant crime.
Are pickup trucks easy to steal?
Many truck owners are baffled by how the thieves carry out their crimes as they can finish the misdemeanor in under a minute.
Most truck owners who are into DIY can find a couple of video tutorials on removing and replacing the taillights. They have become an easy and quick process, but it can be a double-edged sword as robbers can learn from them too.
In an incident caught on camera, the thief holds a cordless drill that can quickly remove the screws, fasteners, and taillights. Thieves have the know-how to jimmy with the latch mechanisms in the vehicle’s tailgate without tripping the alarm. Using a small screwdriver or even just a finger, moving the spring-loaded detent can be done quickly. They can flip the detent in the latch mechanism through the striker access openings located on the sides of the tailgate.
According to anti-theft experts, burglars target particular Ford F-series models, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500, because they are easy to start without requiring the keys with a programmed chip.
Preventing auto theft
Here are some things you can do to deter theft:
Lock the doors: Before you leave your vehicle in a parking space, on the street, or even in your yard, it is crucial to lock the doors. Unlocked doors make it easy for criminals to steal your truck. It is also vital to close the tailgates, including tonneau covers (especially those with locking mechanisms), to ensure the safety of the belonging inside the truck bed.
Don’t leave your truck unattended: You can’t always be there to watch your vehicle. Do not leave the truck on, even for a quick errand. Being gone for a while gives the thieves a chance to steal your vehicle.
Take the keys with you: Do not leave the keys in the ignition or somewhere in your truck cab. Many thieves are cunning, and they know some tricks to get the keys. Leaving the keys behind will increase the chance of criminals driving your truck away.
Use security screws: Security screws are specifically designed to prevent theft. Replace the old screws to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your taillights.
VIN etching: You can have the VIN etched on your window and other truck parts. It may take a lot of effort to engrave the numbers on several pieces, making it difficult for thieves to sell them.
Park the truck in well-lit areas: Thieves do not want to be seen, so they prefer striking at night and in places few people pass. Parking your pickup truck in a well-lit area makes it harder for potential car thieves to steal something from your vehicle. Suppose you have open parking at home, back it up as close to the wall. It will be difficult for burglars to take the tailgate because of the limited space to access the taillight assembly.
Get a GPS or tracking system: Aside from helping you navigate the roads, installing a tracking system can help you track its current location when the truck goes missing from where you parked. The tracking device can help you, and the police recover the truck if it’s stolen.
Install anti-theft devices and vehicle alarms: Having a car alarm or a visible anti-theft device serves as a deterrent to burglars. They might think twice about stealing your vehicle if it starts making loud sounds that will catch someone’s attention. Also, a visible anti-theft device will make them think twice about targeting your pickup. The common anti-theft devices include:
- Audible alarm system
- Wheel locks
- Steering wheel lock
- Steering column collar
- Theft-deterrent decals
- Window etching
Use an immobilizer: When you install an immobilizer with a kill switch, wireless ignition authentication, and fuse cutoff devices, they can help deter burglars.
Put security cameras: Installing a CCTV (or some sort of security camera) where you usually park can help you monitor the safety of your vehicle. If thieves have stolen your truck, you can use the crime footage from the security camera to help the authorities determine the culprits.
Protect your pickup
According to the NICB, the F-series is the most stolen vehicle model even before the pandemic. Ford’s full-size trucks are the best-selling models — so, unsurprisingly, it has been the common target of thieves. In previous years, burglars did not just get the taillights of Ford pickup trucks — they stole the entire vehicle from where it was parked.
It’s better to make sure you lock the doors and tailgates and make anti-theft devices handy to prevent lawbreakers from stealing your precious pickup truck.