Crime & Safety

Forty percent more car thefts in Roanoke Valley reported this year compared to pre-pandemic

Roanoke, Virginia – In general, the number of stolen vehicles has been declining for decades in the United States, and according to the Value Penguin data, a total of 727,921 car thefts have been reported in 2020, which is 52% less compared to 1991, when a total of 1.5 million vehicle thefts were reported. There are various reasons for this trend, but it’s worth noting that car manufacturers have since implemented modern technologies to prevent thefts, while law enforcement has increased its focus and improved methods to prevent thefts from occurring.

In recent years, the number of catalytic converter thefts has been growing because of the precious metals inside them. The number of incidents has literally exploded during the pandemic, but various solutions to prevent catalytic converter thefts sold online have slowed down the trend this year. This clearly shows that there is a solution for every problem, especially in the modern era when developing a product is way easier than it used to be.

Recent data from the Salem Police Department shows that vehicle thefts in the area this year are 40% higher than they were in 2020, and this is especially concerning having in mind that modern cars are equipped with modern safety systems, including cameras that are recording the surroundings of the vehicle all the time. But safety systems are not to blame for this trend; it’s the human factor.

Since the start of the year, a total of 21 cars have been stolen, which is 40% more compared to 2020, when “only” 15 cars were stolen. Most of the car thefts that took place in the area this year happened when car owners left their vehicles unlocked with the keys inside. This, obviously, has nothing to do with the security measures implemented in the vehicles, and the car owners are the only ones responsible.

“I always hear about cars being stolen, but I couldn’t imagine and couldn’t believe that it happened to me,” said one Roanoke resident who had their vehicle stolen earlier this year.

Local law enforcement departments advise Roanoke Valley residents to take extra precautionary measures to avoid similar incidents, especially during the winter when many drivers keep their cars unlocked while warming them up.

There are several steps that car owners can take to reduce the risk of their vehicles being stolen:

  • Install additional security measures: Adding extra security features to your car, such as an alarm system, a steering wheel lock, or a GPS tracking device, can make it more difficult for thieves to steal your car.
  • Keep your car in a secure location: Parking your car in a well-lit, secure location, such as a garage or a gated parking lot, can also help to prevent theft.
  • Be vigilant about protecting your keys: Make sure to keep your car keys in a safe place and do not leave them in your car or within easy reach of potential thieves.
  • Lock your car: Always make sure to lock your car when you are not in it, even if you are only going to be away for a short period of time.
  • Use common sense: Avoid leaving valuable items in plain sight in your car, and do not leave your car running and unattended.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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