NEW YORK, February 28, 2008 – Global Positioning Systems (GPS) may take you wherever you want to go, but all too often they are taken—right into the hands of thieves. While the number of thefts has not been quantified, some insurance companies are seeing an increase in claims for these units, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
The devices are growing in popularity with a 240 percent increase in unit volume through third quarter 2007 compared with the prior year, noted DuraTrend, the oldest continuously running consumer purchase tracking program in the U.S. Manufacturer-installed navigation units as well as portable units can range in value from $200 to as much as $1,000.
“The more popular these systems become, the higher the prevalence of theft,” said Loretta Worters, vice president at the I.I.I. “It used to be that stereo systems and air bags were the target of choice for auto thieves, but today, navigation systems are becoming more popular because they are easy to remove and thieves can make a quick buck by selling them on the Internet.”
Both portable and factory-installed units are often covered under the comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy, minus the deductible; check with your insurer to be sure.
What You Can Do
To prevent thefts, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends “layered protection.” The more layers of protection on your vehicle, the more difficult it is to steal your vehicle or your GPS system. These layers include:
- Securing your vehicle even if parking for brief periods. Remove your keys from the ignition and lock your doors/close windows.
- Parking in a well-lit area.
- Installing an alarm system.
- Removing portable navigation systems from the car, including windshield mounts.
- Registering your unit with the manufacturer so that you have the serial number in the event the unit is stolen.
“A lot of owners leave the windshield mounts of these portable devices behind when they detach the units,” noted Worters. This is a dead giveaway as thieves look on the windshield for the circle on the glass. That leads vandals to think the GPS is somewhere in the car. Not only is there the loss of the unit, but often there is damage done to the vehicle when thieves attempt to break in.”
For additional information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site www.iii.org.
For more information about theft, go to the NICB Web site.
For related audio, go to The I.I.I. Offers Tips to Protect Your GPS System.
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.