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Auto thefts on the rise: but you can take precautions

December 10, 2014

Several reports from across the country have noted an increase in auto thefts. This is not surprising, as holiday seasons tend to be high points for car thieves. However, many believed that with the increase of new technologies in vehicles, such as smart keys and automatic ignition buttons, this trend would put a halt on car stealing, at least of newer models. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. At least not during the holiday season.

No more keys

The traditional key is making room for the smart key.
The fob, which is the small device attached to keys, was once just for opening car doors or locking it as you walked away. With increased technology, its role has grown to that of a smart key. Now it's used for starting the car as well, but isn't necessarily required to be in a slot, just on the driver within the car. This technology is so popular it is utilized in 72 percent of 2014 cars and trucks in the U.S., according to The Detroit News. While it isn't perfect, its use is expected to continue to grow.

But one of the biggest safety points touted by car manufacturers was that a keyless vehicle cannot be stolen without the smart key. By design, the vehicle must recognize that the smart key is inside the car for it to turn on. So though there is no traditional key being used to turn on the ignition, sensors make sure the owner is the correct one in the driver's seat.

Bypassing the system

But thieves are still finding a way. When it comes to keyless automobiles, criminals are learning how to reprogram smart keys for use on other vehicles, reported BBC News. This has caused great concern, and some are questioning what this means for auto insurance, as providers haven't dealt with this type of threat before.

A main problem is that the technology being used by thieves is the same being used by mechanics on these vehicles. Without this technology, the whole design wouldn't be practical at all.

National trend still falling

Even though thieves are adapting to new smart technology, the national trend of cars being stolen is dropping, according to TwinCities.com. Additional safety features are being implemented into new cars, such as fuse cutoffs, which prevent hotwiring.

Important to be aware

Just because security measures are being taken doesn't mean thieves aren't looking for ways to work around them. Having a smart key doesn't prevent your car from being stolen, just like having a home security system doesn't prevent a window from being broken. However, there are safety measures you can take.

  • Make sure your smart key is up to date: For most people, they have only been using a smart key for a limited period of time, as the trend is still a new one. However, smart keys run by batteries, and though they last a long time, it is important to make sure yours is intact. With the holidays approaching, it is important that your technology is in working order.
  • Talk with your auto insurance company:  As this technology in vehicles is treading into new territory, it is worth checking your auto insurance policy to see where you stand. Did you carry your policy over from a previous vehicle? Does the insurance company know you are using a smart key as opposed to a traditional key? It is worth making a phone call so you don't have any surprises.

Thieves don't rest on the holidays, but that doesn't mean you should spend your holiday season worrying about your belongings. Make sure your technology is up to date and your auto insurance policy has covered everything you mean for it to cover. Then you can just relax and enjoy the season.