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Chicago Dealers Driving up Crime: What All Dealers Need to Know

Losing thousands of dollars in inventory is reason enough to do everything in your power to prevent auto theft, but what if your stolen vehicles end up endangering the community?

Police in Chicago are seeing an alarming number of vehicles being stolen from dealerships and rental agencies. Many of the vehicles are then used for illegal activities, including robberies and homicides. The rash of thefts is attributed to dealers leaving keys in vehicles on their lots — so frequently, in fact, that two ward aldermen are proposing an ordinance requiring dealerships to secure keys outside of business hours.

The situation in Chicago is a sobering reminder of why locking up your keys to protect your inventory is critical. Here are three reasons why.

Reckless Driving Endangers Communities

Reckless driving and severe crashes are just two of the ways stolen vehicles can threaten public safety. One recent incident in Libertyville, IL is a prime example. Late one Sunday night, thieves stole five vehicles from a local dealership and were spotted speeding and driving erratically without their lights on. One of the thieves led police on a high-speed chase that reached 115 mph before the stolen vehicle crashed into another car.

You Could Be Liable for Crimes Committed in Your Vehicles

Negligent key control could leave you liable for crimes committed in your stolen vehicles. Fresno My Auto Maxx was sued for negligence after employees repeatedly left keys in vehicles, allowing criminals to easily drive vehicles off the lot. After one of the stolen vehicles was involved in the death of a 55-year-old man, the dealership paid a $950,000 settlement to the victim’s widow. If you’re storing keys in a negligent manner, you’re leaving your dealership vulnerable to this type of lawsuit. Take steps to control your keys before you’re taken to court.

Losses Can’t Always Be Recouped

If your vehicles are stolen and/or damaged, you could be forced to take a loss on the value of the vehicle(s). It’s easy to say, “That’s why I have insurance,” but the truth is, having insurance doesn’t guarantee you’ll recoup all your losses. After paying your insurance deductible and, in some cases, coinsurance penalties, a theft could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Even if your insurance policy were to reimburse you for 100 percent of damages, some inventory can be difficult, if not impossible, to replace. At one dealership in Missouri, two stolen cars that were totaled by reckless driving were among some of the rarest on the lot and would take months to replace. Time spent on filing claims and fees paid for lawsuits brought against you will negatively impact your bottom line as well.

Simply securing your keys protects not only your inventory but your community. How do you secure your dealership’s keys? Let us know in the comments.