Crime never takes a holiday. In fact, popular holidays can be a bonanza for bad guys (and gals), and one of their favorites is coming up tomorrow.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Halloween is the busiest holiday for car thieves, with 2,328 vehicles reported stolen in 2011. Just a bit further down the list, however, is New Year's Day, which saw 2,286 incidents of auto theft last year.
The NICB study (available as a PDF) doesn't try to explain why New Year's Day might be so popular with car thieves. If we had to make an educated guess, we might assume it has something to do with alcohol, which may make drivers less conscientious about where they leave their vehicles.
And like Halloween, New Year's Day isn't especially family-focused -- certainly not as much as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas, which have the lowest theft rates among major holidays. As a result, people are more likely to be out on the town, carousing in unfamiliar neighborhoods, rather than relaxing at home. Thieves aren't afraid of suburbia, but given the choice between nabbing a car from grandma's driveway and taking one from a poorly lit parking lot in the heart of town, they'll probably opt for the latter.
Also, while some New Year's Day thefts may happen during the relatively short daylight hours, we have a hunch that many are committed between midnight and sunrise, when happy revelers are at their happiest.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- The easiest way to avoid car theft is to leave your vehicle stowed safely at home, locked and with the car alarm activated. If you're heading downtown to watch fireworks, try taking a cab -- it'll make parking easier and safer, and you'll be able to get as schnockered as you like.
- If you must drive, drive as sober as a judge, and park in a well-lit area -- ideally in a secure lot. And don't forget to lock your car and set the alarm.
- Don't leave valuables of any kind in plain sight. Baddies may not steal your car, but a bunch of packages could be irresistible to smash-and-grabbers.
- Be especially mindful if you live in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, or Georgia, since those states have the highest incidence of auto theft.
- Don't become paranoid to the point of ruining the festivities. Although car thieves love a holiday, their busiest time of year is during the summer, in July and August.
Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone. Stay tuned for more car news in the run-up to the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, taking place in just a couple of weeks.