Automotive GPS (Global Positioning System) devices have become very attractive targets for thieves.  According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR’s), portable GPS devices are now the number one item being stolen from motor vehicles.

Although prices vary widely for portable GPS devices, the average pawn value is often in the range of $150.00.  Stolen GPS devices can be easily sold, frequently on the Internet via eBay.

Theft of GPS devices from motor vehicles are often “smash and grab.”  The repair bill for the vehicle damage may be greater than the cost of the GPS device


Crime Prevention Recommendations

  • Always remove the GPS unit from a vehicle window or dashboard when the vehicle is unattended.
  • Wipe off the GPS unit suction cup smudge from the window.  The suction cups used to secure the GPS unit’s cradle to the windshield can leave a ring of film on the glass.
  • Hide or remove the power cord or any other accessories.
  • Possibly use a suction mount for the dashboard instead of a suction cup windshield mount.
  • Keep a record of the GPS unit’s serial number for possible identification if it is stolen or recovered.
  • Do not set the home address in the GPS device.  Use a nearby or familiar intersection instead.
  • Use an engraving tool and etch an owner applied number (OAN) or a distinctive marking onto the outer casing of the GPS unit.
  • Record the serial number of your GPS unit and register it with the manufacturer.  Doing so will make it easier to identify as yours if it is ever stolen and recovered.
  • Use a 4-digit PIN code or number to activate the GPS unit.

Crime Prevention Strategies or Programs

  • Provide information about security of GPS devices on your department’s Internet website
  • Develop a press release about theft of GPS devices and distribute to local news media
  • Develop a flyer with GPS crime prevention recommendations and distribute to local car rental companies for their customers.
  • Provide information about theft of GPS devices to Neighborhood Watch or Block Watch organizations
  • Distribute information at National Night Out