Auto theft: the hottest holiday and the hottest cars

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations, but you may want to keep your wits about you on New Year’s Day. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), in 2009 New Year’s Day was the highest day for auto theft. In 2009, the following holidays were ranked by the volume of thefts:

  • New Year’s Day 2,760
  • Halloween 2,325
  • Independence Day 2,207
  • Memorial Day 2,207
  • President’s Day 2,204
  • Labor Day 2,202
  • New Year’s Eve 2,189
  • Valentine’s Day 2,090
  • Christmas Eve 1,851
  • Thanksgiving 1,620
  • Christmas Day 1,336

Curious about which car models thieves favored in 2009? Check out the NICB’s report on Hot Wheels report. Select your location from a drop-down list to learn the 10 most frequently stolen cars in your state. You can also view the nation’s top 10 car theft hot spots.
To minimize the potential for car theft and to increase the likelihood of vehicle recovery if theft does occur, NCIB recommends a layered protection approach. This layered approach combines common sense, a warning device, an immobilizing device, and a tracking device.

Holiday shopping Dos and Don’ts

The holiday season can be hard on your wallet. Here are some consumer protection tips to help you spend wisely and safely.

  • Avoid impulse buys.
  • Have a plan and a budget and keep track of all purchases.
  • Pay in cash whenever you can. It’s easier to overspend when you use credit than when you pay with cash.
  • If you do use credit, brush up on your card’s fees and charges so you know the real costs.
  • Don’t focus too heavily on discounts.
  • Comparison shop. Just because something is marked as a sale doesn’t mean it’s the best available price.
  • Read online consumer reviews – both for retailers and for products
  • Check your bank and credit card statements frequently.
  • Read the fine print on return and exchange policies.
  • Don’t open packages – especially electronics – if you know you will return the item.
  • Keep receipts
  • Avoid costly extended warranties
  • Beware of bogus “gift cards.” While gift cards now have certain consumer protections, prepaid cards and reloadable debit cards – particularly those aimed at teens – may carry high fees.
  • Check your credit cards to see if they offer any added consumer protections or warranty boosters – if so, you might consider using for a large purchase.
  • Watch shipping fees, which can add up. Many retailers offer free or reduced price shipping
  • When shopping online, only shop at secure sites. At checkout, look for the web page to have https:// (with an “s”) instead of https:// in the address.
  • Don’t conduct business over public wi-fi lines, which are not secure. Avoid using your credit card or doing banking when using public networks.
  • Be careful about e-mail phishing. It’s better to go directly to the vendor or banker’s site directly to check out any offers.
  • Question everything and consider bargaining. Ask if there are any promos or deals.
  • Check for special discounts, such as for senior citizens, AAA members, AARP members
  • Consider making your holiday gifts. Homemade gifts can be more personal and can save money.
  • Ask about free boxes and free wrapping, which can save a bundle.
  • Store any packages or shopping bags in your car trunk to avoid theft.