Americans love trucks not only because they’re big but also because they are versatile and great haulers. If you drive across America, you may notice that pickup trucks massively outnumber the rest of the vehicles on the road.
Pickup trucks are the ultimate symbol of American values with a mix of work, play, and utility. Unfortunately, they are a favorite target for auto thieves too. Let us explore why they are so popular among buyers and thieves alike.
Back then, pickup trucks were viewed as workhorse vehicles. Farmers and ranchers used them to haul crops and livestock. Pickups are also the typical vehicle choice for contractors, landscapers, and other small businesses,
But as years progress, many consumers buy trucks for personal use as they can be reliable for daily driving. Unlike smaller cars like sedans, pickups have a roomier cabin that won’t make you feel claustrophobic.
Moreover, modern pickup trucks have become both utility and luxury automobiles. They come with features that were once only available in SUVs and cars. Most pickup truck models these days have a comfortable cabin, advanced safety features, and the latest infotainment technology. No wonder they are the best-selling vehicles in America.
While pickup trucks are popular among buyers, they are also a common target among car thieves. In fact, pickups are the most stolen vehicle in the United States.
A favorite target of thieves
A lot of truck owners in the country come back to their parking spots or even on their driveways to discover that their rides went missing. The number of vehicle theft in the country has steadily risen over recent years. This type of crime has always been a long-time problem for the police.
One might think that the usual stolen models would be among the most expensive limited production rides or flashiest cars on the road. But the truth is — it’s the exact opposite. Indeed, some of the most desirable sports cars and luxury models are still on the list of targets.
Even during the height of the pandemic in 2020, vehicle theft has been rampant in the United States. According to the annual “Hot List” published by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), one of the most frequently stolen vehicles is the Ford F-150 pickup truck. The organization described “crime is business, and the business is good.”
The bulk of those stolen vehicles is older pickup trucks sold in higher volumes. Data shows that criminals are surprisingly interested in particular vehicles, including popular pickup models. Some of the missing vehicles can be found in the used car market.
David Glawe, NICB’s President and CEO, said that they have seen about a 35 percent increase in the value of used cars over the last two years. The price of vehicles increased, whether brand-new or used, due to inflation and supply chain issues.
Pickup trucks are the typical target for theft because of the following:
- Doors can be opened easily: Forcibly opening the door locks can be a way for culprits to target the pickup trucks. If owners leave their vehicles unlocked in an open garage, the truck becomes an easy target. Even without a physical key, thieves can open the doors remotely or use simple tools to pry them open. Some brand-new models have keyless entries, so thieves can open them by hacking the system.
- Can be easily accessed: Without tonneau covers to protect the truck bed, it’s easier for burglars to steal your stuff. Some tonneau covers are designed with a locking mechanism that works well with the tailgate. Since most owners do not put covers on their truck bed, that makes them an easy target for thieves. The possibility of burglary is higher if you leave some packages, mobile devices, or other valuable items within your truck while parked.
- Can be sold in the used car market: Thieves like stealing pickup trucks because they are more valuable than other cars. Criminals can sell the stolen automobiles and ship them overseas to be resold.
- Parts wanted by chop shops: Thieves target pickup trucks by driving them off from the parking space or even towed away to a “chop shop.” They can dismantle valuable components such as truck tires, wheels, lights, suspension parts, and other accessories. There are times when the pieces are worth more than the whole vehicle. The culprits can sell them directly to consumers, repair shops, or passed off to unscrupulous vendors.
- Stealing trucks means easy bucks: Burglars can make easy money from selling the dismantled parts online. They can sell the stolen parts on the black market or post them individually via marketplaces online like Craigslist or Facebook.
- Recyclers buy truck parts for valuable metals: According to reports, recyclers can pay a measly 50 to around $250 or more for a used catalytic converter. The precious metals used in the catalytic converter include palladium, rhodium, and platinum. In 2020, around 14,443 converters were taken, with owners left facing repair bills that can run up to $3,000.
Preventing thieves from stealing
Here are some ways to prevent burglars from targeting your vehicle:
- Install anti-theft devices: Investing in good quality anti-theft systems is crucial. Preferably, it’s great to have an anti-theft device with a GPS tracking function and, if possible, one that has immobilizing feature to hamper the vehicle from being stolen.
- Etching the VIN: Permanently engraving the VIN to your truck parts and accessories can be the best way to protect it from thieves. Even if the criminals could dissect and chop down the pickup to sell the parts, seeing the etched VIN would stop their misconduct. Vehicles with visible VINs printed on the windows, windshield, and other components are less likely to be stolen.
- Be vigilant and alert: To help thwart car thieves, the NICB advises automobile owners to heed common sense, especially when parking the vehicle. That means the car must always be parked in a well-populated, well-lit, and high-visibility area.
- Use CCTV to your advantage: Parking spaces with security cameras can significantly help prevent auto theft. Aside from protection, the CCTV footage of theft incidents can help the police identify the culprits if the vehicle has been robbed or stolen.
- Use fence or close garage for vehicle protection: Keeping the vehicle in a closed garage at home can also fend off criminals. They will think twice about breaking into your garage because they can be delayed by opening the gates and disengaging the home’s alarm system.
- Always lock the doors: It would be best to keep the doors locked when you’re about to leave the truck unattended. Also, make sure to roll up your windows. Even if you leave your pickup unlocked for just a few minutes, criminals can quickly drive it off in an instant.
- Secure the keys: Do not leave the keys or the remote key fob in a storage cubby or cup holder. Criminals can copy the key fob by using a hacking program to override the car’s system to open the doors.
Consumers will continue to buy pickup trucks as long as automakers make them safer, more comfortable, and more reliable. However, safety is not only applied when driving. Your vehicle’s protection should also be a concern when parked on the driveway or in public spaces. Criminals may be lurking around the corner and may target your automobile. It’s good to be mindful of your surroundings and take extra precautions to prevent pickup truck theft.