Thieves are becoming more sophisticated and technologically advanced in their pursuit of your valuable assets. They are armed with an array of tools, tricks, and techniques that enable them to more easily steal vehicles and parts right off of dealer lots and, as we have seen in some markets, this confidence has made them even more brazen in their attempts.
While auto thefts are down, car component thefts such as wheels, tires, catalytic converters, etc. are on the rise. Using many different techniques from Smart Key Makers to simply grabbing keys to jacking up cars, these thieves know exactly how to get the vehicles and parts they want.
Unlike other businesses with high-value inventory, locking cars inside a warehouse is not an option because it would be cost prohibitive and would not be attractive to customers who like to browse on the lots. As a result, many auto dealers have millions of dollars in inventory sitting outside making them vulnerable to thieves.
Then what can dealerships do to reduce theft? We’ve compiled five tips to help you protect your lot and assets.
1. Lock car keys
Keep your keyboard locked during and after business hours so no unauthorized persons have access to keys. Dealerships learn this lesson the hard way when keys disappear and vehicles are stolen soon after. Train your staff on how to handle keys throughout the day and remind them to not leave keys unattended as it’s an open invitation for a crime of opportunity.
2. Position your cars strategically
Parked cars on a lot can be used as theft prevention tools. Parking vehicles at the end of aisles or surrounding particularly valuable cars can block exits for thieves. Additionally, all cars should be parked with their emergency brakes on and front wheels turned sharply to the side to make it difficult to tow the vehicle or remove the wheels.
Park vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pick-ups and SUVs, in well-lit areas as these are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access to the converter.
3. Protect your lot with light and fences
Ensure your lot and your showroom are illuminated with bright lights. Thieves prefer working where they can’t be easily spotted. No lighting or poor lighting makes it easy for thieves to work on the lot without being noticed and difficult for cameras to see.
Install a fence around your lot if possible as it provides another deterrent making it more difficult to drive off with one of your vehicles. While not always feasible on your front lot, many rear lots are not protected by fences and are far from prying eyes at night, making them prone to vehicle and part thefts
4. Screen staff and contractors
Sometimes, the bigger threats come from the inside. Tips about how to get keys or whether or not the lot is being monitored come from employees or contractors. A seemingly benign oversight of “forgetting” to lock up adequately could actually be a deliberate ploy to pave the way for an accomplice to commit a crime and share some of the winnings. While nothing can fully eliminate this risk of internal crime, performing full criminal background checks on all employees and contractors can reduce the risk. Also, include changing locks, combinations or other access points when key holders or managers leave or are terminated.
5. Monitor your lot
Installing video cameras is a good first step as it may deter some thieves but the ones that are more experienced will figure out if your lot is monitored or not. In some cases, cameras are just not enough because they don’t stop thieves from entering your lot and stealing vehicles and parts.
Preventing theft before it happens is the best way to protect yourself. Most stolen vehicles are never reclaimed and it’s even more difficult to track and recover stolen parts. Using an interactive video surveillance provider insures highly-trained remote surveillance security professionals are monitoring your lot and any activity happening at night.