Vehicle thefts have been on the rise in recent years, and the problem could get worse if President Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported auto parts are imposed.
“The reason: If car parts become harder and costlier to obtain, then thieves, chop shops and black marketeers will steal more automobiles,” Ed Leefeldt explains in an article for CBSNews.com.
Even without the tariffs, newer vehicles are loaded with expensive parts and components that make thieves salivate. For example, the most stolen 2016 model – the Toyota Camry – has 15 commonly replaced parts valued at nearly $11,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest “Hot Wheels” report.
“For the professional theft ring, stealing and stripping vehicles for parts has always been a lucrative business,” said NICB Senior Vice President and COO Jim Schweitzer. “On today’s cars and trucks, the parts are often worth more than the intact vehicle and may be easier to move and sell. That’s why we see so many thefts of key items like wheels and tires and tailgates … there’s always a market for them.”
The market could get hotter if the United States imposes a 25-percent tariff on imported automobiles and auto parts.
“If something increases the cost or affects supply and demand, then it’s likely that thieves will take advantage,” NICB spokesperson Roger Morris told CBSNews.com.
A higher risk of vehicle theft isn’t the only way that consumers would pay a price for the tariffs. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the nation’s largest insurance associations assert that consumers would pay an additional $3.4 billion in auto insurance premiums if the tariffs were imposed. The associations estimate that 60 percent of auto parts used in the United States are imported.