It’s no surprise to say the pandemic caused a sharp rise in car prices. Supply chain issues caused a lack of new cars, which in turn led to a spike in the price of pre-owned vehicles.
What is surprising is that now that the pandemic has waned, pre-owned car prices remain high. Car buying service Edmunds says that pre-owned vehicle prices remain near record levels: the average cost of a car was $19,657 five years ago, but is $28,381 today. Edmunds attributes this price hike to a shortage of inventory, caused by low lease volume in general (which means fewer expired-lease cars are on the market), low trade-in volume, and fewer vehicles being turned over and sold in the pre-owned market.
High Prices + Low Inventory = Target for Thieves
This opens a new security problem, both for new car dealers with comprehensive offerings, and for companies that specialize in pre-owned vehicles. David Glawe, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said it best: “Since the start of the pandemic, used car prices have increased 35 to 40 percent. Criminals are exploiting these high prices as vehicle and catalytic converter thefts are crimes of opportunity. And crime is a business, and business is good.”
These criminals include organized crime groups, which are savvy enough to know that cutting the power to video cameras and other security systems can give them unfettered access to vehicles, tools and other items they may be after. For many, pulling off a heist is even easier with relatively unprotected used car dealers, or businesses that operate remote lots to house their inventory. And in some cases, they will steal only the catalytic converter because of the precious metals inside, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
The Mobile Monitoring Solution
In all cases, pre-owned car dealerships can make it far more unlikely that they will become a crime statistic. Monitoring the property with video cameras is a sensible first step. But while this might keep “casual thieves” away, a more sophisticated solution is required to provide protection of “electricity cutters”: mobile video surveillance. Pro-Vigil offers just this type of solution.
Pro-Vigil’s mobile surveillance solution is solar powered and connected to the cell network, so it can provide the same crime protection as its fixed-camera cousin, but in a portable form factor. Best of all, there’s no electrical cable to cut so even seasoned thieves will have a difficult time.
In practice, Pro-Vigil’s cameras – both fixed and mobile – are monitored by a team of virtual guards who use artificial intelligence to identify suspicious activity, and to take appropriate action. This can include audio and visual deterrents – like flashing lights and sirens – to scare off would-be thieves. They can even contact local authorities when their own countermeasures aren’t enough. This ability to stop crime “in the moment” is superior to traditional camera systems, which only provide after-the-fact evidence (if the perpetrators don’t cut the electrical cord!).
Also, mobile units can be repositioned if a dealer’s needs change. For example, variances in inventory may make monitoring needs change. Pre-owned cars are hotter than ever for thieves – due to their high cost, use of precious metals in catalytic converters and the tendency for thieves to use stolen cars for other crimes. Pro-Vigil makes sure these vehicles stay on the lot where they belong.