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New Year's is Christmas for car thieves

While you're on the couch watching football, criminals are out and about. And if you've had a few too many, you might be a sitting duck. Here's what your auto insurance covers.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 12, 2011 11:27AM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site on MSN MoneyHere's one more reason to lock your car in the garage and take a taxi on New Year's: It's a car thief's favorite holiday.


Actually, it's the cold light of the next day that thieves love, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports. You're all about bowl games and hangovers. They're all about unattended 1994 Honda Accords and starting the year on an ambitious note.


No one is sure why, but NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi has a theory: Cars left by owners who have had a few too many might be sitting ducks.


The industry association's analysis of 2010 car theft data from the National Crime Information Center found nearly 21,000 vehicles stolen on holidays. Last year, 2,347 people were dialing the cops and their car insurance companies on New Year's Day.


It's the only holiday that looks like a regular workday for car thieves, the NICB found. On most holidays, thefts come in well below the annual daily average of 2,124. The lightest holiday is Christmas, when reported thefts fall by nearly half.


Even car thieves have mothers, you know.

Post continues below.

Here's how the holidays ranked in 2010:

  1. New Year's Day, 2,347.
  2. Memorial Day, 2,122.            
  3. Halloween, 2,064.
  4. Labor Day, 2,020.
  5. New Year's Eve, 1,986.
  6. Christmas Eve, 1,928.
  7. Independence Day, 1,914.
  8. Presidents Day, 1,903.
  9. Valentine's Day, 1,745.
  10. Thanksgiving, 1,605.
  11. Christmas Day, 1,361.

Far more people are worried about smash-and-grab thefts this time of year, when Christmas packages beckon from the back seat. And rightly so.


"Gifts wouldn't be covered by your car insurance," says consumer analyst Penny Gusner. "Neither would your laptop, iPod or other personal items you had in the car."


The comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy covers the broken window (as well as theft of the car), but it does not cover anything not permanently attached to your car.

Your homeowners policy might cover items stolen when the car is in your driveway, Gusner says. And it's possible that any credit card you used to buy your gifts might offer some coverage, sometimes called purchase security. Check the fine print.


But in the end, it's easier to be proactive and make sure to lock the vehicle, hide your hide-a-key in a less-than-obvious place, and put your gifts in the trunk.


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