Thieves Want your Car – One Piece at a Time

by Law Guru on March 3, 2019

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Today’s car thieves rarely hot-wire a vehicle and drive it out of the parking lot; instead, they steal its parts to sell piece by piece. Stealing an automobile is a bit more difficult today than it was in the past. Modern technology in anti-theft equipment has made it harder than ever for would-be thieves to drive off in the latest vehicles. However, technology has not squelched the creativity of society’s miscreants. If thieves are not able to steal the whole car, they opt for the parts, which is an ever-increasing trend in car theft, according to the FBI.

High Profile Parting

Photo by dFireCop

Perhaps one of the most publicized part thefts occurred when Paul Walker, star of Fast and Furious, died in a terrible accident. Someone snatched a piece of the famous Porsche, presumably for memorabilia or to make a buck on the Internet. Evidently, as reported on, after the primary suspect was arrested, his accomplice decided to play it safe and turn himself in.

Everyday Business

Unfortunately, most car part thefts do not involve totaled vehicles, and the guilty parties rarely turn themselves in. Instead, a growing number of average Americans walk out of their homes or workplaces to find that their cars are missing tires, radios, or hub caps. While these parts have been popular among thieves for decades, today’s list of stolen parts is far more extensive. Airbags, roof racks and GPS devices are just a few of the hottest parts on the market. In fact, one theft ring, now broken up by the FBI, ripped off more than 5,700 airbags before their party ended. 

Since it is more difficult to steal the whole car, thieves today make their money by stealing high-demand parts. Airbags are a top seller, which presents a pernicious threat to consumers needing airbag replacements on their vehicles. The high-dollar bags they have installed in their vehicles may not be new; rather, they may have been swiped from other vehicles and reinstalled. This could lead to defective bags and loss of life.

Taking Valuables

Thieves are after top dollar items. Obviously, leaving expensive electronics in plain sight in a vehicle is never a good idea. Removing valuable items from a car is simply not possible in many cases. After all, who is going to remove his car’s navigation system, radio or even tires every time he leaves his vehicle?

Photo by Alan Bruce

Most government agencies still recommend basic steps for theft prevention, whether it is part theft or automobile theft. These steps include always locking doors, parking in well-lit areas, removing as many valuables from the vehicle as possible, and never leaving the engine running when away from the vehicle. These tips may help, but following them can’t guarantee that you won’t walk out the door one day to find your car on blocks and the wheels gone. Tactics may have changed and car thieves may have modernized, but they are still out to make a buck—off the pieces of your car.

Chris Turberville-Tully is an avid writer for HR Owen’s news blog, a busy dad to 2 young sons and a world traveler. To date Chris has traveled to over 80 countries.

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