While car theft has steadily declined in the last decade, thefts of a certain vehicle part -- pickup truck tailgates -- are on the rise, according to a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
From 2006 through 2009 only 23 insurance claims nationwide were processed for tailgate theft, the report found. In 2010, that number rose to 430 and increased again in 2011 to 472. Through Sept. 30, 2012, year-to-date tailgate theft claims reached 418, with 557 projected through all of 2012.
The data only reflect insurance claims and are not representative of actual theft activity. Some theft victims don't have comprehensive car insurance, which would cover theft, or they choose not to file an insurance claim because of the deductible or the chance of seeing the premium go up.
A standard tailgate -- the hinged closure at the rear of a vehicle, such as a pickup -- costs about $1,200, but a tailgate outfitted with a backup camera and other electronics can cost more than $3,500 to replace. Replacement tailgates, which can be purchased from dealers and auto part stores, are in high demand, the bureau says. Stolen tailgates can end up on sites like eBay and Craig's List for resale, or they are sold to scrap dealers. Rising cost of metal makes it lucrative to sell parts there.
The bureau says thieves are swiping tailgates from private vehicles, commercial vehicles and even from trucks parked on dealership lots.
Tailgates can be stolen in less than 30 seconds.
To avoid tailgate theft, the bureau offers these tips:
- Use an integrated lock. Buy an integrated lock if your model doesn't include one.
- Park with the tailgate as close to an object or a structure as possible to prevent the tailgate from opening.
- Etch the truck's vehicle identification number or a personal identification number into the tailgate; this will aid in its recovery and may prevent theft in the first place.