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Car thefts are on the rise nationally and locally

This Thursday, May 21, 2020, photo shows a parked car with a broken driver's side window after a smash-and-grab break-in in Los Angeles. The coronavirus hasn't been kind to car owners. With more people than ever staying home to lessen the spread of COVID-19, their sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs are parked unattended on the streets, making them easy targets for opportunistic thieves. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The number of car thefts are on the rise over the last decade, locally and nationally. According to Lending Tree, the number of thefts have increased 18 percent in Utah over the past ten years.

Prices for used cars have been on the rise recently. The demand, unfortunately, may also be translating into the supply sector that would rather take your vehicle than buy it.

Car thefts decreased slightly in Utah in 2019

The national number increased from nearly 800,000 purloined in 2019 to almost 875,000 last year.  In the statement from Lending Tree, the number of  car thefts per every one hundred thousand in Utah did decrease in Utah from a ten-year average of 252 to 210 in 2019. The company did not provide the 2020 number in a recent release written by Alison Chan.

Lending Tree says that comprehensive coverage, not basic coverage, needs to be part of an individual’s auto insurance. This is important if a stolen car is expected to be replaced.

Steps to take if your car is stolen

It also suggests the following steps to take to mitigate the time and effort needed before and after a vehicle is snatched:

* Have up-to-date photos of the car.

* Along with contacting the auto insurer, also contact companies that issue homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. “It may sound odd, but the stuff in your car at the time of the theft isn’t covered by your auto insurance,” Chan adds.

* Call credit card companies and other financial institutions if personal information was left in the vehicle.

Be careful of what you leave in your glove compartment

The release points out that many people keep insurance cards or registration documents in the glove compartment. In worst case scenarios, receipts or paycheck stubs might be in the car. These habits can lead to identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands.

Lending Tree also suggests paying the deductible on the insurance policy for the car and waiting. In cases where comprehensive coverage has been purchased, the insurance company won’t declare the auto “a lost cause” for at least 30 days. Although, the insurer may eventually pay the current market value to settle the claim. This is not in the cases where only basic coverage has been bought.

The release also suggests, in addition to a comprehensive policy, that rental car reimbursement also be purchased in addition to gap insurance. This will cover the difference between the upper limit of the coverage and how much is still owed on the car.