• Most Stolen Car Parts
    • Image Credit: flickr, roujo

    Most Stolen Car Parts

    Parking your car on the street or in a lot can be a stressful experience. You hope that when you return you'll find your ride exactly where you left it in the same condition, but everyday thousands of people return to their cars to find them still there, but lighter then when they left.

    Stealing a whole car is a risky prospect. But thieves don't need to make off with the whole enchilada to make a quick buck -- they can make quite a bit of money scavenging parts. The  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says thieves can strip a vehicle in less than 30 minutes. By parting a vehicle rather than stealing the whole thing, they can increase their payday two to four times the vehicles' worth. Click through to see what pieces of your car may be a target.
  • In Car Entertainment systems
    • Image Credit: flickr, Intiaz Rahim

    In Car Entertainment systems

     While the stereo system is no longer a big draw for thieves, cars now offer much more tantalizing options. Aftermarket in car entertainment and navigation systems have been becoming more and more complex as to keep up with features found standard in newer pricier cars. These units can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle

    Some systems come with a removable face that you can hide in the glovebox while parking your car. However in this case common sense such as locking doors and parking in well-lit high-traffic areas are the best deterrent.

  • Car emblems and logos
    • Image Credit: Flickr, Steve Rhode

    Car emblems and logos

    Usually a favorite with teenagers, the little symbol on the hood of your car can be a draw for thieves as well. Replacements can cost hundreds of dollars. Without it your car still works fine, but the missing emblem hurts resale value immensely.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle 

    You can have a dealership fix the logos with a glass sealant or Araldite, which is a high strength epoxy.

  • Wheels
    • Image Credit: flickr, Susan NYC


    An old favorite, all anyone needs to steal wheels off of a car is a few cinderblocks and a some tools. Usually the entire wheel is stolen, and the tire and rims can be sold separately. Recently there has been a nationwide trend of Honda Fit wheels being stolen because the smaller rims are prized in car modification. In 2012, police discovered two men stealing Honda Fit wheels from a dealership. In that heist 72 wheels had been taken.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle

    There are circular steel wheel locks which resemble the boots used by police departments on parking scofflaws. As well as preventing the car from being driven they also prevent the wheels from being stolen. They're a very visible deterrent to theft but may not be practical unless wheel theft is a major problem in your area.

  • Catalytic Converters
    • Image Credit: flickr, follettmotors_com

    Catalytic Converters

     Since 1975 all vehicles sold in the U.S. have a catalytic converter, which helps strip out carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. It does this by passing the toxic fumes through precious metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium, metals that fetch a high price in scrap yards. It's so easy to lift a catalytic converter that thefts are epidemic in some cities.

    How to Protect Your Vehicle? 

    Most states now have laws restricting scrap yards from buying catalytic converters with no questions asked. Thieves target cars that have been sitting for long periods of time in parking lots that aren't particularly busy. You can also engrave your license plate number on the converter or ask your local shop to reinforce the converter with additional brackets to make it more of a pain to rip from your undercarriage.

  • GPS
    • Image Credit: flickr, Kazuma@Al13


    A shiny new GPS is a major temptation for any thief, and has the added risk of informing the thief where you live and what addresses you've recently visited. A basic GPS can cost $100, but the more advanced models can reach $1,000 or more. Resale value is lower for a GPS, but when you score a GPS for free what you can sell it for is pure profit.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle

    GPS units that are portable can be put into a safe hidden place inside the vehicle, like a center console or a glove compartment. The tell-tale ring from the suction cup where the GPS attaches to the windshield lets thieves know that your car probably has one stowed away. Keep some anti-bacterial wipes on hand to remove the ring after hiding a GPS will keep prowlers at bay.

  • Batteries
    • Image Credit: flickr, modenadude


    If a thief can get under your hood, there isn't a lot they can make off with that's valuable. The engine is a little heavy and pretty well contained, the dipstick isn't going to bring a lot of coin, but the battery is easily removable and contains lead, which is valuable to scrappers. A thief can steal a battery quickly and with minimal risk. A recycled battery can net $20 at a scrap yard and thieves usually hit multiple cars in an area to rack in the largest rewards. To replace a battery costs usually between $80 to $200, depending on the make and model.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle 

    Bolting them into your car isn't an option. You can buy and install after marker hood locks for your vehicle, as well as park in well lit parking lots where digging around under a hood would be suspicious.

  • Airbags
    • Image Credit: flickr, Prattman


    The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates 50,000 air bags at a value of $50 million are stolen every year. Air bags are important safeguards that need to be replaced whenever they deploy or are stolen. Stolen air bags can be bought cheap from criminals and installed in unsuspecting vehicle owners at cost. Replacements plus installation can run a few thousand dollars.

    How To Protect Your Vehicle 

    A steering wheel lock such as The Club will prevent air bag as well as auto theft. What you can also do is prevent such thefts from being profitable. If you need an air bag replaced, check the invoice to make sure that the parts came from a manufacturer, dealer or certified recycler. Ask if you can inspect the air bag before it's installed in your vehicle to ensure it's sealed in new packaging and not taken from another car illegally.

  • Tailgates
    • Image Credit: flickr, subindie


    Law enforcement in at least eight states this year have been reporting rashes of tailgate thefts. The hinged doors on the beds of pickups can be literally lifted off of a truck just by opening the tailgate. Tailgates, depending on the model of pickup can sell for between $1,000 and $4,000 on

    How to Protect Your Vehicle? 

    Police recommend keeping tailgates locked so they're more difficult to steal. It's also wise to ensure your tailgate has your Vehicle Identification Number etched somewhere on it so if its stolen, it can be recovered. There are some products out there designed to further secure tailgates by bolting the latch that the tailgate pivots on to the truck.

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