🚗 What car parts are most often stolen in New Jersey?

🚙 How can you protect yourself from car thieves in New Jersey?

🚗 What are thieves selling car parts for on the black market?

On average, two cars are stolen in New Jersey every hour.

Even as the legislature and state and local law enforcement take more aggressive action to combat it, car theft has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise.

More than 1-million vehicles were stolen nationwide in 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The thefts cost vehicle owners more than $8 billion in losses.

74% of all stolen vehicles are passenger cars.

The majority of stolen vehicles are chopped up and sold for parts.

A skilled thief can strip an entire car in half an hour, according to NHTSA, and then sell individual parts for up to four-times the vehicles value.

In many cases, thieves don’t even have to steal the entire vehicle to get the parts they are after.

Keep reading to find out what the most commonly stolen vehicle parts are, the prices they fetch on the black market and how to protect yourself.

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🚘 Catalytic Converters

The theft of these anti-pollution devices has exploded in recent years.  Thieves can chop them off of your car’s exhaust system in seconds.  They are valuable due to precious metals used in their construction including platinum, palladium and rhodium.

What are they worth on the black market?

According to the National Automotive Dealers Association, stolen catalytic converters can garner anywhere from $20 to $350 on the black market.  However, the replacement cost to vehicle owners averages $2,500.

attachment-Catalytic converter

How to protect yourself

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do to guard against catalytic converter theft.  Car makers are starting to etch vehicle identification numbers into the parts to make them harder to sell to scrap dealers.

🚘 Air Bags

Air bags are the second most frequently stolen car part because of their high value.  They are more difficult to remove, but thieves believe it is worth the effort.

What are they worth on the black market?

According to NHTSA, a new airbag, which retails for approximately $1,000 from a car dealer, costs between $50 - $200 on the black market. Because of their portability, airbags can be easily removed and installed as “new” by unscrupulous collision repair shops.

attachment-A new airbag retails for approximately $1,000 from a car dealer. It costs between $50 - $200 on the black market

How to protect yourself

A steering wheel lock (like the Club) can prevent the main air bag from being stolen.

The National Automotive Dealers Association also recommends only buying certified air bags from the manufacturer, a certified recycler, or a dealer.  It should be in a sealed package so you know it wasn’t taken from another car illegally.

🚘 In-Car stereo/entertainment systems

The traditional car stereo no longer has the appeal to car thieves that it once did, but with the addition of entertainment and navigation systems there is value to bad actors.

What are they worth on the black market?

It depends.  Factory installed units do not carry a great deal of value.

However, after market units that include DVD players and navigation systems can sell for thousands of dollars on the black market.

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How to protect yourself

Higher end after market units often come with detachable face plates or locking mechanisms to deter theft.

In general, these units are more difficult to steal, so police advice you to park in a well-lit area to make it harder for thieves to go unnoticed.

🚘 Tires and rims

This is a classic and one that car thieves will still go after, especially high-end aftermarket rims.  They are relatively easy to steal and easy to re-sell.

What are they worth on the black market?

The tires themselves are not worth a lot of money.

However, custom or high-end rims can resell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, on the black market.

attachment-Custom or high-end rims can resell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, on the black market.

How to protect yourself

Locking lug nuts are effective and relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing your rims.

🚘 Batteries

Batteries are often the only thing under your vehicle’s hood that are not screwed down, and are easily stolen.

What are they worth on the black market?

One battery is not worth much, but thieves will often target multiple vehicles in one area to grab as many as they can. Scarp yards will buy them to either resell or break them apart for the metal plates inside the battery.

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How to protect yourself

There are aftermarket hood locking mechanisms that can be purchased to make it harder to gain access to your vehicle’s engine compartment.

Law enforcement also recommends parking in well-lit areas where someone would notice a bad actor messing with the hood of your car.

What is driving the rise in car thefts in New Jersey?

While car theft has always been an issue in New Jersey, it is no longer a matter of kids boosting a vehicle for a joyride. It has evolved into a sophisticated criminal enterprise that jeopardizes the safety of state residents and has frustrated law enforcement.

Click here to read more about what is really driving the rise in car thefts in New Jersey and how law enforcement is trying to stop it. 

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