Browse Publications Technical Papers 2006-01-1583

Preventing the Theft of Motor Vehicles: The Limits of Deterrence 2006-01-1583

This article draws on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with young auto thieves in Eastern Ontario as part of AUTO21's National Study of Young Offender Involvement in Motor Vehicle Theft. To help develop possible avenues for the prevention of car theft, this paper focuses on the techniques utilized to steal motor vehicles and on how young people understand their participation in auto theft. It was apparent from the young people's responses that the reduction of auto theft would not be accomplished by focusing exclusively on improving the security features of motor vehicles. For some young people, security devices held little deterrent value and could be easily circumvented. However, certain security devices (e.g. GPS tracking) did hold some potential deterrent value for specific vehicles (e.g. high-end vehicles). Unfortunately, this meant that young people simply moved on to more susceptible vehicles. Threat of punishment and a variety of situational crime prevention techniques (e.g. parking lot attendants, bright lighting) also held little deterrent value.


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