Car thefts in Clark County have been on a steady increase. Thefts – including thefts of catalytic converters – are posing a significant threat to individuals and business owners alike.
This issue is being widely discussed, including with local business associations. Michael Walker, Executive Director of Vancouver Downtown Association shared, “VDA Board of Directors & staff communicate regularly with downtown business owners, property owners, and stakeholders regarding this topic. We encourage business owners in the downtown core to maintain 24/7 activation of your storefront, as it is critical in deterring crime—lighting all exterior entrances, frontages, and interior if possible, is a great way to create the perception that there are ‘eyes on the street.’ We encourage business owners in the downtown core to contact VDA for advice and assistance in improving their exterior activation.”
Paula Rogers, Vice President of Business Lines for Davidson & Associates Insurance explains that as an agency, they have seen an increase in insurance claims for vehicle and catalytic converter theft. “We have had multiple clients who have had their vehicles stolen and even more have had their catalytic converters taken. Within the last six months, we have had at least one auto theft or catalytic converter stolen each month.”
Kim Kapp, Public Information Coordinator for the City of Vancouver Police Department shared these statistics for the Vancouver area, specifically. “Auto theft is up over the past two years significantly with 2,183 auto thefts reported in 2021 compared to 1,334 in 2020 and 790 in 2019. Thefts of catalytic converters have also been steadily increasing in our area and nationally. There is some correlation with motor vehicle theft and theft of catalytic converters, which has impacted both residential and commercial business areas, where the stolen vehicle is recovered shortly after the theft with the catalytic converter missing. When metal recycling prices are high, these types of thefts increase.”
Dave Anzellotti, Executive Vice President of Property & Casualty for Biggs Insurance said that their team has also seen a large increase in theft-related claims since the beginning of the pandemic, especially with stolen contractor’s equipment and tools, as well as damage and theft that is related to catalytic converters. He recommends that following common-sense practices for stopping car burglaries is the first step to staying protected, but the next step is understanding which type of insurance is appropriate for your specific situation. For example, personal or business property should be covered in separate policies, apart from auto or trailer insurance.
As a business owner, Anzellotti explained that coverage with inland marine insurance is one of the best types of insurances to have. This type of insurance provides coverage where the property goes. In other words, the products, materials, and equipment that are transported over land or temporarily warehoused at an off-site location by a third party, are covered.
“Know what coverage you have and make sure your property is adequately covered,” said Anzellotti. “The best way to accomplish this is to call your insurance agent and discuss it.”
Kapp said that work trucks and vans are some of the most stolen vehicles, and they are often emptied of the valuable work tools they carry. She recommends securing those tools before the vehicle is left unattended and parking in secure areas. Both tactics are key components of preventing theft.
“Some auto dealerships and auto repair businesses have fallen victim to motor vehicle theft, as have businesses that have rental vehicles and moving rentals, such as U-Haul,” she said. “In some instances, multiple vehicles were stolen per incident. Make sure keys are not readily accessible. For example, if the business is burglarized, ensure that keys are not out in the open, or offices are unlocked where keys may be accessed.”
Kapp also shares that the police department has seen an increase of vehicle theft in cars or trucks in front of businesses that are left running, especially delivery vehicles. She recommends that businesses train their employees on securely storing keys and fobs, in addition to how to store tools overnight. She also recommends that having good parking options with proper lighting, locking, and location are important parts of keeping company or employee vehicles safe.