Sep 23, 2021 - News
Why Instagram ads, billboards are reminding you to lock your car
an instagram ad warning you to lock your car
Image: Instagram

Has your Instagram tapping surfaced ads reminding you to lock your car lately? You're not alone.

What's happening: The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Fraud Bureau partnered with the Hennepin and Ramsey county attorneys to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing auto theft.

  • "Keep your car safe from thieves by parking in well-lit areas, always locking the doors and taking the key or FOB," one version of the black-and-yellow social posts reads.
  • New billboards on major roads, including Hiawatha and I-94, carry similar warnings.

Why it matters: Having your car stolen sucks! But auto thefts also impact the economy as a whole, when insurance companies pass on the cost of repair, replacement and claim processing to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Details: Commerce doled out about $67,000 to the two county attorney offices to pay for the campaign, which also includes bus ads.

  • The department plans to expand the campaign to Greater Minnesota later this year.

Between the lines: Locking your car may sound like a basic reminder, but forgotten keys and unsecured doors are big drivers of auto thefts.

  • Commerce's 2019-2020 auto thefts report estimates that 60% of cars stolen in the metro were taken after the owner left the keys inside.
  • While the vast majority (93%) of vehicles stolen in jurisdictions participating in a state theft prevention initiative were recovered, many were damaged, again increasing costs.

The bottom line: St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders told Torey that these "crimes of opportunity" are especially common in the winter, when many of us leave our cars running to warm them up on chilly days."

  • We had a case a few years back that involved a woman stealing a running, unattended vehicle and driving it to the airport," he recalled. "She was arrested at the gate."
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