I like to have fun with my editorials, 'cause that's the kind of guy I am. There is enough serious stuff going on everyday that a little levity goes a long way toward maintaining my sanity. Having said that, there is also a time and a place to tackle a serious subject and that's what this editorial is all about.

For starters, are you aware that according to the FBI an estimated 1.2 million vehicle thefts were reported in 2002? The nation's vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was up slightly, 0.4 percent in 2002, marking the third consecutive year the auto theft rate has increased after a ten-year decline. In other words, it's getting a bit more dangerous out there for our hot rods. A car is stolen every 27.5 seconds, totaling 1.2 million per year nationally (according to a recent National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NCIB, report on stolen vehicles). California is the epicenter of activity, with five of its cities ranking in the top ten locations for auto theft. And for one moment don't think street rods aren't stolen. I have seen it myself that our cars are subject to being stolen or damaged. I should also point out that theft occurs no matter where we are! In other words, you have to be just as, if not more so, diligent while on the road at any one of the hundreds of rod runs that thousands upon thousands of rodders attend each year. The estimated total value of stolen motor vehicles was $8.2 billion. The NICB has some recommendations that will help to not only protect your street rod, but also all the cars in your family's control.

Layered Approach to Protection
Professional thieves can steal any car, but make them work for yours. To prevent thefts, the NICB recommends "Layered Protection." The more layers of protection your vehicle has, the more difficult it is to steal. Of course, some of the recommendations may work well for your family stocker but be neither practical nor compatible with your street rod. Most of all, use your common sense and imagination. Your street rods, our street rods, are investments and represent not only a great deal of time, effort, and "love," but a heck of a lot of money.

Layer #1 - Common Sense
An unlocked vehicle with a key in the ignition is an open invitation to any thief, regardless of which anti-theft device you use. The common sense approach to protection is the simplest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves.
-Remove your keys from the ignition
-Lock your doors /close your windows
-Park in a well-lit area

Layer #2 - Warning Device
The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device, which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected.
-Audible alarms
-Steering column collars
-Steering wheel / Brake pedal lock
-Brake locks
-Wheel locks
-Tire locks / Tire deflators
-Theft deterrent decals
-Identification markers in or on vehicle
-Window etching
-Laminated glass

Layer #3 - Immobilizing Device
The third layer of protection is a device that prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated.
-Smart keys
-Fuse cut-offs
-Kill switches
-Starter, ignition, and fuel disablers

Layer # 4 - Tracking Device
The final layer of protection is a tracking device, which emits a signal to a police or monitoring station when the vehicle is reported stolen.

-Passive and Active Anti-Theft Systems: Passive and active anti-theft devices are the two options available when considering an anti-theft system. Passive devices automatically arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the ignition key removed, or a door is shut. No additional action is required. Active devices require some independent physical action before they are set, such as pushing a button, or placing a "lock" over a vehicle component part. This physical action must be repeated every time the anti-theft device is set or it will not function.

I don't want to unduly scare any of you. But a little common sense and a bit more prevention on our behalf can ensure that we start every morning with our street rod sitting exactly where we left it the night before. And that brings me to a companion subject. In the near future we will publish a story on how to have your car appraised--the whys and wherefores of appraisals and why you should have your street rod insured. It's a serious subject with serious ramifications and one each of us should take, well, seriously.