Baton Rouge: Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon reported that the number of vehicle thefts in Louisiana has declined nearly 42 percent over a five-year period from 2006 through 2011. The latest figures from the FBI Uniform Crime Report show a steady decline in the rate of auto theft in Louisiana, dropping from 15,640 in 2006 to 9,123 in 2011.
“We are pleased that we continue to see progress since, in addition to the trauma such instances inflict on vehicle owners, motor vehicle theft is one of several factors considered by insurance companies when setting our auto insurance premiums,” said Commissioner Donelon. “Proactive law enforcement strategies, coupled with the effective use of anti-theft technology such as license plate readers and alarm systems, plus increased public awareness about vehicle theft are really paying off through this significant reduction in crime.”
The latest FBI data come as the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI), along with the Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA), is launching a statewide public awareness campaign to combat vehicle theft and fraud. That statewide campaign consists of billboard and radio ads that will help spread the message of how to avoid auto theft and burglaries, as well as address the impact of insurance fraud and how to report it.
“While the number of auto thefts in Louisiana has declined, still too many cars are being stolen each year,” Donelon said. “Our new public awareness campaign will address vehicle theft and burglary, as well as insurance fraud, which all impact consumers through higher premiums passed along to policyholders.”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more than 10 percent of the insurance claims submitted each year are fraudulent. Insurance fraud accounts for as much as 10 percent of insurance premiums and the average household spends $950 a year in additional premiums to cover the cost of insurance fraud in America.
The public awareness campaign includes billboards and radio ads from November to January. “We want to get the word out to consumers - especially around the busy holiday shopping season - do not leave valuables in your car and remember to always lock your car doors when leaving your vehicle,” added Donelon. “These are simple measures you can take to avoid becoming a victim of theft.”
The billboards and radio campaign will begin running next week and can be accessed via the LDI website at: www.ldi.state.la.us/Legal_Services/LATIFPA/awareness.html
Commissioner Donelon and LATIFPA are offering motorists the following additional tips for vehicle crime prevention:
- Remove your keys from the ignition upon leaving the vehicle and never leave your car’s engine running unattended, not even in your driveway or for a quick errand.
- Close your windows completely.
- Park in well-lit lots and garages that have security and/or parking lot attendants. Avoid parking near dumpsters, large vans or trucks, woods, or anything else that limits your visibility.
- Never hide a second set of keys anywhere on your car. Thieves know where all of the “hiding places” are.
- Don’t park in the farthest corner of the lot, but rather near the entrance of a facility to insure the most foot traffic and the most potential witnesses.
- Park with the wheels turned toward the curb, even when parking in driveways and parking lots. This makes your vehicle difficult to tow.