Think like a Thief

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By Arantxa Lozada

In the early morning of October 28, 2014 college student Ivan Munoz, 22, from Jersey City, NJ, was being dropped off home after a night out with friends. To his surprise after arriving onto his block, he noticed something wrong with his parked car. Both the driver side and passenger side windows had been smashed leaving traces of shattered glass all over the sidewalk. The interior of his Toyota Celica had been torn apart, the wires underneath the steering wheel were pulled out, the ignition jammed and broken, and every compartment opened and cleared.

“They took my radio, they took my speaker, and they took my ampler for my speakers,” says Ivan, “It was definitely two people because they took a lot of stuff. They broke my ignition, but couldn’t get the car started because the car had a problem to begin with.”

The vandals made away with electronic items that were reportedly valued at about $2,885. The suspects were never caught. In 2013 there were approximately 768-reported motor vehicle thefts in the Jersey City area, according to the Jersey City Police Department Computer Statistics Program (COMPSTAT).

Local Jersey City car enthusiast Sebas [nickname], 21, discusses the process a car jacker might take when stealing a car using the most popular manufacture car in New Jersey, the Honda, according to editorial.autos.msn.com,

“Older models are always going to be easier to break into than newer models because of the outdated alarm systems,” he explains, “All you really need is a flat head screwdriver.”

He continues to explain that in Honda Civic, 1990-2000s models, the windows can easily be popped out of its track.

“If you force the window down enough, your arm can fit inside and you can unlock the door from the inside. If the car has an aftermarket alarm [alarm system that did not come with the car] you can shut it off by cutting the blue, yellow, and red wires underneath the dashboard connected to the alarm.”

A theft can drive off with your car by locking your steering wheel and rocking it back and forth until it breaks the steering column. From there, as Sebas explains, you force the flat head into the ignition cylinder and “jam it.” The car should start and you can drive away.

Ivan Munoz later invested in a steering wheel lock for his car, a rod that is locked over the steering wheel to prevent driving. The thieves do not always aim to rob cars; it is mainly the parts inside that they are after.

Sebas says,” The main reasons thieves take cars are to use the parts and sell them. That is an easy way to make money and also they can keep the parts they want the most to make their cars better.”