Stolen cars

My husband’s 2001 GMC Safari was stolen in front of our home 3 weeks ago. We are dealing with the insurance company and eventually will get a new vehicle. Here in California the majority of stolen cars are Toyotas and Hondas (older ones). Can someone tell me a good vehicle for transporting goods (my husband is a street vendor and used a canopy, tables and other items) that is less likely to be stolen. I can’t go through something like this again and we have lost so much money due to my husband not being able to work. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Patricia

If somebody wants to steal a vehicle, they will do so, unless there is an anti-theft system that is so effective that it defeats them in their efforts.

I base my statement on Police Blotter reports in my local newspaper about people stealing vehicles that are…old, but not classic…and decidedly not desirable. (Why would somebody steal an '80s vintage Oldsmobile unless they did it because it was the easiest car on the block to steal?)

Ergo–car theft is a crime of opportunity.
Vehicles with keys inside are the first to be stolen.
Then, cars w/o an effective anti-theft system are the next to go, regardless of their age or their desirability.

My advice is to find a vehicle that meets your overall needs, and then have a high-quality anti-theft system installed by an installer who has an excellent reputation.

Nhtsa has some theft data online, but the newest I’ve seen is from 2011. Honda Pilot’s,Element’s and Odyssey’s seem to have a fairly low rate of theft. But your experience in California may be different.

Get a good beater pickup and install a master switch(out of sight)-Kevin

If you could find a pink Yugo…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I would look for a good used PT Cruiser. Around my neck of the woods…you can’t give them away.

I have driven older Hondas and Toyotas (the cars most likely to be stolen) in Baltimore for the past 15 years and never have had any problems with theft. I use a “Club” steering wheel lock and never leave valuables in view. Actually I don’t leave valuables in the car at all.

There is a good chance someone stole the van in order to take the canopy, table, etc.

“I use a ‘Club’ steering wheel lock”

I hope you realize that a good hard tug with a dent-puller can take the lock right out of The Club.
Back in the days when I used The Club (before I moved to a rural area), I would turn it around, so that the lock mechanism was facing the front of the car. Using the key was somewhat awkward, but that placement made it essentially impossible to use a dent-puller on the lock.

Not to mention that you could saw through the steering wheel right next to the club . . .

One of those nightly magazine shows about 10 years ago showed a professional thief disabling “The Club” in less then 20 seconds.

So the question was for vehicle suggestions. They had a Safari, so someone though big was good. My suggestion is a mini van. Cheaper to run, lots of room, not too desirable to steal for parts. If you leave anything in there someone will at least break into it, so you do have to empty it out at night. It seems to me that once minivans have a dent or lots of paint deterioration they are shunned by people with kids, but for your use it doesn’t matter.


Important question . . .

were the tables, canopy, etc. in the van . . . in plain sight . . . when it was stolen?

At my neighborhood association meetings, the police officer always warns us not to leave valuables in the car . . . and if you do, at least put them in the trunk, where passersby can’t see them.
He says not doing so is inviting trouble.

Now, with the van, you obviously don’t have a trunk. Anything in the van will be visible

My advice for the future is to move all of the stuff into the house before you park the van for the night.

A Word about the stats…
older Toyotas and Hondas are the most commonly stolen because they’re everywhere. That (skews the stats…if 60% of the cars in the road were Caddys, most of the thefts would be Caddys) and it creates a robust market for used parts (“chop shops” are a common destination for stolen vehicles). Coupled with the fact that older vehicles have less security technology built in, and the result is that older Toys and Hondas are the most stolen.

All you can do is follow the advice already given. And talk with your insurance provider about coverage for lost income due to vehicle theft.

Sincere best.

I remember an article in a car magazine years ago on auto theft prevention. A chop shop had been raided and there was a photo of a floor to ceiling pile of “clubs” in the corner.

A kill switch and security system will prevent the vehicle from going anywhere but the contents will always be subject to smashed windows. Garage are great.

The NHTSA stats take how many were sold that year into account (popular vehicles with lower #'s of thefts do better)

My method of anti-theft is probably counter intuitive to his being a street vendor.
I keep my cars as un-appealing as possible…ie; unwashed, except for mud, most of the time.

Yet as a vendor doing business at his vehicle I’d imagine that a nice looking truck, canopy , tables and other implements will convey the image of a respectable vendor. He wants to maintain an image that helps his business.


Another idea is to keep a Chilton/Haynes repair manual for your specific car in plain sight . . . that means on the passenger’s seat or the driver’s seat

That way, anybody looking through the window will see it and hopefully think your car is quite likely a problematic POS that is not worth attempting to steal

No offense intended

As it has already been said ‘if they want the vehicle bad enough, they’ll find a way to get it, regardless of whatever measures you take to prevent it’

I like an ignition shut off switch. It’s cheap, doesn’t have to be installed in the passenger compartment and means the thief will at least have to open the hood. Or, only own cars associated with the mafia.

I suggest a cargo van with no windows. I’d guess that you want a used van since you are replacing a Safari. GM offers the Express and Savana. A 2005 might work for you if you can add a little money to the insurance settlement. He might consider parking the van with the back against a wall and your car so close in front that no one could get the van out of its parking spot.