Automotive dealerships are faced with unique challenges when it comes to the security of their lot and assets. They must not only provide the public with easy access to showrooms filled with high-value inventory, but also encourage these potential customers to engage with this valuable merchandise. Unlike other retailers, dealerships generally store most of their high-value inventory outdoors after business hours. With millions of dollars in inventory left outside, auto dealerships have always been particularly vulnerable to security threats. Unfortunately, risks to auto dealerships across Chicago have only increased in a post-pandemic world.
Due to tight supply and heavy demand resulting from the Covid pandemic, vehicles are especially valuable these days. Statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau have shown an unprecedented surge in auto thefts across the nation over the past couple of years, with the biggest jump right here in Chicago: car thefts increased by 134% in 2020. Despite numbers leveling out as pandemic restrictions lifted, auto theft figures remain disturbingly high. Sophisticated heists involving car dealerships have captured headlines across Chicago, with losses to auto dealers reported in the millions of dollars.
Auto dealerships present a world of opportunity for experienced criminals, and vehicle theft is far from the only threat of financial loss and reputation damage for dealerships. One of the most costly crimes carried out on dealership properties is catalytic converter theft, which can be difficult to identify and stop. Armed with an array of tools and techniques, thieves are becoming more technologically advanced in their pursuit of valuable car components, which are sometimes brazenly stolen right off of dealer lots. Successful thieves will study car dealership routines and often choose the busiest times to strike, allowing them to disappear within the hustle and bustle.
Other crimes that take a significant toll on a dealership’s bottom line and reputation include: