On Vehicle Theft....
A couple of days ago, a colleague of mine went out of her parent's house in Cavite only to discover that her late model van was no longer where she left it the night before. After checking with towing companies and impounds to see if it had been towed, and after reporting the incident to the police, her worst fears were confirmed. She was one of the latest victims of vehicle theft in the country.
Vehicle theft, more often referred to as "carnapping" here, is one of the most prevalent organized crimes in the Philippines, alongside drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, and robbery/hold up. Two years ago, on average, three cars a day are stolen somewhere in the Philippines, a 25% decrease from the previous year. Now, with the economy bottoming out on us, it seems like the incidence of vehicle theft is again on the rise.
Most of these car thefts take place in Metro Manila, in parking lots, residential areas and middle class subdivisions. They usually occur between 2 and 4 in the morning primarily due to lack of police visibility, potential witnesses, and adequate security measures in residential areas. Invariably, the stolen vehicles are either resold using false documents or dismantled ("chop-chop") and sold for spare used parts. Sometimes stolen vehicles are known to be used in the commission of certain crimes, like bank robberies and kidnappings, and later abandoned.
While we can never be 100% certain that our cars won't be stolen, there are precautions we can take to lessen the probability of becoming victims of vehicle theft, or to lessen the negative impact, in case it does happen to us. Here are some suggestions:
If possible, try to park your vehicle in well-lit areas, preferebly in an area with high security guard or police visibility;
Deter carnappers or make your car less easy to steal by installing security devices such as more secure locks, steering wheel clubs, or alarm systems. Etching the license plate numbers on the windshield and windows are also deterrents;
Avoid keeping your vehicle's registration documents in the glove compartment. Access to these documents make the vehicle easier to sell;
Lastly, just in case, have your car insured.
Of course, don't forget the simple stuff, like never leaving your car keys in the ignition and always locking your doors and closing your windows all the way when leaving your car unattended. Avoid waiting inside a parked car, and try to get a feel for safe and unsafe areas to park your car.
Hope you find these suggestions useful, and I can only hope that you don't become a victim of this crime.
As for my colleague, with any luck, maybe her vehicle can still be recovered. Hopefully.