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Consumer Fraud Alert – Auto Theft

San Diego, California -- GEICO advises auto owners in California to take heed of the National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) latest report that says California is home to six of the top 10 auto theft locations in the nation.

GEICO recommends these steps to help reduce the chances your car will be targeted:

  1. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving. Close all windows and sunroofs, no matter how hot it is.

  2. Never leave your keys in the car.

  3. If possible, park in busy, well-lit areas. Thieves prefer to work in the dark. Leave your car in park or in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb or some other obstruction, so thieves won't be able to tow it easily.

  4. Avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle where passersby can see them.

  5. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn't have one. A mechanism that locks onto the steering wheel can be a very visible sign that you've taken steps to protect your vehicle. Ignition cut-off systems prevent a car from being started. Some new cars come with passive alarms that activate automatically when the key is removed from the ignition. One system emits a signal that can be tracked by the police. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles that can be tracked and recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for these types of systems.

  6. Beware of the "bump-and-rob" technique. Carjackers bump your car from the rear, then steal it when you get out to look for damage. When stopped at a traffic light, leave room to maneuver around the vehicle ahead if you need to. If another car bumps yours and you feel threatened, drive to a populated area. If you have a cell phone, call the police for assistance.

  7. Do not leave registration or title in the car. Too often a car thief is pulled over and gets away from the police because he or she can produce the auto registration. If multiple drivers use the vehicle, the best suggestion would be to hide the registration in a secret location that only the owners know.

  8. Look around. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations.

  9. Know where you're going. Avoid known high-crime areas even if the alternate route takes a little longer.

  10. If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can't.

  11. Have your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on eachof the windows. Car thieves want to get off cheap. They don't want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass.

The NICB reports that while vehicle theft has decreased over the last two years, thieves still steal approximately 1.2 million vehicles a year in the United States, or one every 26 seconds. For more information about the 2005 top 10 metropolitan statistics for auto theft, please go to