A new car-theft trend has police across the country worried. "Car hopping" is when thieves steal valuables from multiple vehicles in the same area, quickly moving from one vehicle to another. Thieves look for accessible marks, such as cars with unlocked doors or convertibles with the top down. Once inside, they steal anything of value, including sunglasses, spare change or phone chargers.
South Florida police told CBS 4 Miami that car-hopping crimes have skyrocketed in the past two years. But Florida is not alone. Arizona, Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina also had problems with car-hopping thefts.
South Miami Police Major Rene Landa gave viewers of CBS 4 Miami some excellent advice
"Don't leave anything of value in the car. Lock your doors and don't leave anything in plain view"
Locking a car and engaging a security system is a good way of protecting your valuables. It's more difficult to steal an entire car with new technology like GPS tracking becoming popular. The value of tracking stolen vehicles was never more evident than when policed used Mercedes mbrace telematics to track down the Boston Bomber suspects. Cops are also using high definition cameras to scan license plates and find stolen vehicles. Because of the high risk level involved in stealing cars, thieves are much more likely to behave like car hoppers, targeting valuables inside the car, or valuable parts of your car.
Given that thieves can make tons of money by selling individual parts, it's no surprise that they will often target a car for its components. And we're not talking just radios and wheels. NHTSA describes certain car components as "hot parts," which are parts that thieves are particularly interested in. The list includes air bags, batteries, catalytic converters, GPS units, DVD entertainment systems and items left visible in your car such as iPods, computers and purses.