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Watch your back: Tailgates are now target of thieves

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possible“Tailgates can cost upward of $1,000 to replace and they are very easy to steal when they are not locked,” said Detective Ho Sook Anderson, coordinator for the LAPD’s Mission Division Commercial Auto Theft Section. Five of the LAPD’s Valley police divisions have previously experienced the occasional tailgate theft, but more than three dozen have been reported this year. While purse-snatching, pickpocketing and bicycle theft are decreasing across the nation, vehicle burglaries are on the rise, soaring 10 percent in 2004, the last year for which data were available, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Overall, auto thefts also continue to decrease nationwide. The LAPD reports a nearly 10 percent decrease this year compared with the same time last year, and a 16 percent decrease compared with 2004. But the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that California still leads the way, with almost 253,000 car thefts in 2004, the last year for which data were available. Though 60 percent of all cars stolen are returned, the rest end up on the black market, shipped overseas, or in chop shops, where vehicles are dismantled and the parts sold on the black market, said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the NICB. “That’s a huge business, not just in Los Angeles, but in all parts of the country,” he said. The Internet and the ease with which these parts can be distributed has made (selling) easier.” The trickle effect means higher insurance premiums, he said. “It’s the kind of economic climate that I find personally bothersome,” he said. “We wind up paying for their inconsideration.” Donnie Adlen, who has co-owned Sun Valley’s U-Pick-A-Part auto wreckage yard for 50 years, said many truck owners come in seeking tailgates to replace those that have been smashed in a collision or else stolen, so there is a demand. Thieves have tried to sell what he believes are stolen tailgates to Adlen, but he buys only intact cars. “We get a lot of cars from the official police garages – a lot of them, but usually on trucks, the tailgates are gone,” he said. “We hear all kinds of stuff about thefts. The black market is our biggest competition.” Tailgates have no serial numbers, no way for police to identify the stolen part, Anderson said. She recommends that owners of older-model trucks purchase after-market locks found at auto parts shops for $25, or engrave the vehicle identification number or the driver’s license number into the tailgate. The LAPD’s West Valley station, for example, will lend engraving devices to local residents. Some newer models of trucks are now sold with the locks, such as those found on the 2006 Ford F-series, said Tawny Arnaud, vice president of Galpin Ford. Thieves also are plucking third-row seats from larger American SUVs, such as Cadillac Escalades and Chevrolet Tahoes, Anderson said. Insurance specialists from the Southern California Automobile Association say reports of stolen third-row seats are increasing. “There’s always going to be someone out there, no matter what comes out, that figures out how to take something without paying for it,” Scafidi said. “Parts from a car, even tailgates, have been getting ripped off since trucks have been made because there is always someone who doesn’t want to pay retail.” [email protected] (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! First came rims and radios, then air bags and fenders. Now the latest targets to be ripped off from American-made trucks are tailgates and third-row seats from giant SUVS. Police in the San Fernando Valley have noticed the recent trend, and encourage truck and SUV owners to prevent thefts by marking tailgates and seats. Older-model trucks are particularly vulnerable, police say, because the tailgates don’t come with locks. last_img read more