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Pickup truck tailgates: Easy to steal, and thefts on the rise

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2008 Ford F-250Ford

Coming back to the truck after a game at the stadium or following a night out with friends, it can come as quite a shock to realize that thieves have made off with your tailgate. It takes less than 30 seconds for a thief to snatch a pickup tailgate and replacement costs can amount to $1,000 or more.

While the total number of tailgate thefts isn’t anywhere near as high as vehicle thefts, a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reveals that tailgate thefts are on the rise.

The first-ever report analyzed tailgate thefts that occurred across the country from January 1, 2006 through September 30, 2012 and found that some 1,343 claims were made in 45 states. The data points to the fact that tailgate theft claims have been increasing every year since 2009. In fact, the projected increase for 2011 to 2012 is 18 percent.

Ford full-size truck tailgates most likely targets

As for which truck tailgates lead the list of most likely to be stolen, that dubious honor goes to the 2008 Ford F-250, of which 70 claims were made – five percent of the total claims.

Next on the list was the 2010 Ford F-150 with 48 tailgates reported stolen.

The 2007 Chevrolet Silverado ranked third among most-stolen tailgates with a total of 39, followed by the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado with 36 and the 2011 Ford F-250 with 35.

High tailgate-theft states and cities

Of the top five states for tailgate theft, four are in the West. In descending order of theft claims, the states are:

  • Texas – 451 claims
  • California – 272 claims
  • Arizona – 125 claims
  • Florida – 86 claims
  • Nevada – 36 claims

As for the highest-ranked tailgate theft cities, three are in Texas, while Arizona and California have one each, as follows:

  • Houston – 96 thefts
  • San Antonio – 70 thefts
  • Dallas – 51 thefts
  • Phoenix – 36 thefts
  • Fresno – 31 thefts

Tips to avoid tailgate theft

There are some things you can do to help prevent tailgate theft in the first place. According to the NICB, taking these precautions can both ease your mind and aid in the recovery process.

  • Lock it. An integrated tailgate lock, if available on your vehicle, is there for a reason – to prevent the tailgate from being opened. A thief can’t steal the tailgate without first opening it, so be sure to lock the tailgate whenever leaving the vehicle.
  • Park close. Here the recommendation calls for some adroit parking maneuverability, since the idea is to park as close to an object or structure as you can so that there’s no room to open the tailgate. A backup camera is helpful if you find it tough to navigate the truck in close quarters.
  • Etch it. Taking the time to have the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into the tailgate itself will help speed recovery time. The NICB advises that etching the VIN, or your personal identification number, into the tailgate may even prevent thieves from attempting to make off with it in the first place.

For more information about tailgate thefts and to view or download the complete report, visit the NICB website.

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