Tuesday 7 February 2023

Criminals prefer to steal cars with better gas mileage due to the increase in the price of gasoline

Every 2 hours a car is stolen in Costa Rica

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7 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – As the country nears another record-setting increase in the price of gasoline, owners of gas guzzlers have a benefit over owners of fuel-efficient cars, their vehicles are less likely to be stolen.

The constant increases in the price of gasoline are affecting even criminals, as car theft groups are dedicating themselves to stealing ‘chuzos’ that are more fuel efficient, that is less expensive to fill up.

This was revealed by Esteban Chavarría Araya, prosecutor of the Deputy Prosecutor’s Office against Drug Trafficking and Related Crimes, on the radio program “Frecuencia MP” on Monday.

Every 2 hours a car is stolen in the country

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Although Chavarría did not provide detailed information on this change in the behavior of the criminals, he did explain that this is because it is easier for them to sell a vehicle with a smaller engine and that uses less fuel.

“More than anything, the Policía Judicial (Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ) tells me that this goes hand in hand with the increase in fuel prices, that is why (criminals) look to steal vehicles that are more fuel efficient and easier to sell them.

A class of cars that seems to be a favorite among thieves are in the group with the Toyota Yaris, “one of the most stolen vehicles in recent months throughout the country,” stated the prosecutor.

However, this does not mean that carjackers have neglected the higher value vehicles. The expensive vehicles are in a different class. Buyers of this type of stolen vehicle are not necessarily concerned with fuel economy. Another reason for stealing high end vehicles is for their high value in parts.

“Vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Montero and the Toyota Hilux are being stolen since, despite the fact that they are modern, they are taken for use in spare parts sales,” added Chavarría.

Complaints on the rise

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The OIJ reported 3,342 vehicles were stolen in 2021, and so far this year, up to last Thursday, the OIJ had received 1,539 complaints, vehicles stolen mainly in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM – that is urban centers of the provinces of San José, Alajuela and Heredia.

For its part, Cartago was the province where the fewest vehicle thefts were reported in 2021.

“At the national level, it is common, throughout history, the theft of vehicles, whether four or two wheels such as motorcycles are committed typically when vehicles are left on public roads.

“We also have the ‘cocherazos’ (vehicles stolen from inside a garage) that occur typically at night, as well through the ‘bajonazo’ (heft of a vehicle consisting of violently assaulting the driver,” added the prosecutor.

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The main reason for theft of a vehicle is usually through “descuidos” – carelessness or oversights of the owners, like leaving the vehicle unlocked or keys in the ignition or door. About half of the theft cases so far in 2022 are due to this reason.

According to Detektor Costa Rica, depending on the type of vehicle, its parts are sold or the whole car is sold. “Cars that are more than ten years old are the ones whose parts are stolen, such as: tires, ball joints, compensators, electrical and entertainment systems, even the engine is disassembled and sold in parts.

“Newer vehicles have their engine or chassis number changed, they are also taken out of the country illegally, and work cars are stolen mainly to distribute or steal merchandise,” argued Trejos.

Recommendations to avoid being a victim of vehicle theft:

  • Look for technological allies that offer tracking services and electronic location of vehicles in case of theft.
  • Change driving routes, thieves take advantage of the weakest points to attack.
  • Leave the vehicle in safe places, such as public or private parking lots.
  • In the event of confronting a car thief or a gang of thieves, the recommendation is to hand over the keys or vehicle and protect your life.

If your vehicle is stolen, call 9-1-1 and file a report with the OIJ. If the vehicle is equipped with a monitoring device, contact your service provider to help police in locating the vehicle.



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