Auto Theft: Professional Thieves aren’t Just Joyriders

  • November 26, 2017
  • Scott at LoJack

It might not seem obvious unless it happens to you, but the distinction between a joyrider and a professional thief is very important. Although two types of thief might use similar techniques, the crucial difference is intent: the joyrider never means to permanently deprive you of your vehicle.  Cars stolen by joyriders are often found on the side of a road nearby, albeit in worse condition. Sometimes the joyrider is even someone you know, such as a teenager taking the parents’ car without permission, hoping to return it before they find out.

The professional, on the other hand, steals your car with an eye toward a specific goal. Auto theft happens, and by the time you notice your car is gone, it could be on the way to a chop shop, among other destinations. There are a number of possible fates for your vehicle. Here are three types of theft that are profitable for a pro.

The Chop Shop– Shopping for Parts

For those who make a living stealing cars day to day, there’s often a shopping list of specific vehicles that are needed to keep a flowing pipeline of parts for popular models. These parts can be sold at new or near-new prices to customers who are none the wiser. The thief keeps an eye out for the desired vehicles at shopping malls, airports, and other locations where cars are likely to sit for a while. Once the car is stolen, it’s often hidden in a garage where it can be stripped completely in a matter of two or three hours.

The Exporter

Some vehicles are sold whole to the international market where certain makes and models are in demand. High-end Japanese and German cars are not the only ones in demand. These cars must be transported quickly and carefully, and are loaded as soon as possible into trucks or shipping containers so they can be across the border and out of reach before they can be tracked down.

The VIN Switch

A more insidious crime is the salvage switch operation. A totaled car is bought at auction and “cloned” by moving its VIN to a stolen vehicle of the same color, year, and model. This stolen car can now be sold to an unsuspecting consumer who doesn’t know that it’s actually stolen.  That consumer may be surprised to have law enforcement discover that the vehicle is in fact stolen and then confiscate it.

Quick Recovery of the Stolen Vehicle Can Help

These three scenarios can be challenging for law enforcement because the amount of time between the theft and the disposition of the vehicle can be very short, and the vehicle can be hidden or moved across a border in the meantime. Fortunately, a stolen vehicle tracking system like the LoJack System makes a car much more difficult to conceal. Vehicles have been recovered in transit to the border or hidden in warehouses far from any main road because of the LoJack System signals. For more information, check out LoJack Stolen vehicle Recovery System or LoJack SureDrive.