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Patrol Car Theft: An Ounce of Prevention

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 29 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 130,132-134,134
Michael Trunko
Date Published
July 2002
4 pages
This article discusses anti-theft systems for police patrol cars.
Patrol car theft is increasing all across the country. Since the theft of patrol cars is viewed as preventable, law enforcement agencies are often held accountable for damages, injuries, and deaths relating to these incidents. Most agencies do not have anti-theft systems installed in their vehicles. They wait until after one of their patrol cars has been stolen before considering such devices. Anti-theft devices currently on the market permit police officers to leave their vehicles running without the risk of being stolen, but the devices operate differently. Secure-Idle keeps the car running without the key in the ignition but the steering column locks up and the shifter can’t be moved. Pushing a button and turning the key to the off position activates the device. To disengage it, the officer must put the key back into the ignition, turn the key to the on position, and put the car in drive. Although many officers view this type of system as quite effective, they still need to activate the system and use a key, which can hinder rapid departure and other procedures. Safe-T-Loc from InterMotive activates automatically when the vehicle is shifted into the “park” position, allowing the key to be left in the ignition. With this and Tremco Police Products’ anti-theft device, officers may attend to situations immediately without having to manually activate the system. It is important to look for an anti-theft system that is easy to install, comes with a warranty, and does not void any existing vehicle manufacturer warranties. A 15-minute course is required to instruct officers how to operate the system. It is important to leave police cars running because there are computers in them. The vehicle must stay warm in winter and cool in summer. The cost of the theft not only includes the car and the computer with sensitive information, but also weapons. Anti-theft devices are a cost effective and wise investment. These devices are officer safety products, which may qualify them for grant money. Any agency considering the purchase of these devices should explore the possibility of applying for grants.


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