Pickup thefts are spiking. Here’s how to protect yours

by: Eytan WallaceKatelyn Stark

Posted: Dec 15, 2021 / 09:49 PM PST / Updated: Dec 16, 2021 / 02:12 PM PST

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles on the road — popular among both drivers and thieves. 

They consistently make the list of the most stolen vehicles in California and most other states, and a few models are especially vulnerable.

But there’s state-of-the-art technology that could save trucks from being lost to thieves.

“Really grateful” was how Jacob Silveira said he felt knowing he would still get to enjoy his 2005 Ford F-250 pickup truck. The Universal Technical Institute student said things could have turned out very differently on Monday night when a thief or thieves tried to break into and steal his truck outside his Natomas apartment. “They popped the cap off, it was thrown over there. Hammer there, screwdriver in and they can turn it,” Silveira demonstrated for FOX40. In the end, they were not successful and fled.

While they did not get away with his truck, thieves have managed to steal tens of thousands of other pickup trucks across the state and nation over the last few years, and it’s only gotten worse during the pandemic. Data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows 2006 Ford pickups made it to the top of the list as the most stolen vehicles in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020. 

In 2019, thieves stole 71,521 Ford and Chevrolet pickups. In 2020, that number grew even higher to 84,982 — an 18.8% increase.

In the Golden State, the trends were even worse.  

In 2019, 14,573 Ford and Chevy pickups were stolen, while in 2020, that number jumped by nearly 44%, to 20,951.  

And in some parts of Northern California, the spike is much higher. “We’ve seen about a 300% increase,” explained California Highway Patrol Yuba-Sutter officer Brian Danielson. The Yuba-Sutter Division of the CHP is actively working on several cases, including one that happened just a couple of weeks ago when a man in Plumas Lake was caught on surveillance cameras stealing a pre-2006 Ford F-250 in a matter of seconds.

Law enforcement and safety experts say Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty models made before 2006 are especially susceptible to thieves. “They found a way to exploit the ignition system,” Danielson said. “They’re really quick to steal. All they have to do is pop the lock and they’re driving off in less than 10 seconds most of the time.”

But state-of-the-art technology is on the market to prevent just that. It’s called a Ravelco Anti Theft Device. “We don’t sell car alarms, we don’t sell tracking devices, we don’t sell clubs because none of that stuff really works in the end,” said California Ravelco President Richard Biscevic. “We sell one product for the last 18 years, and one product has been very successful.” The technology centers around a 16-pin plug that Ravelco connects to the truck wiring system. Just like a key, the plug stays with the truck owner and must be inserted into a switch in the truck to get the ignition started. Without that plug, the truck’s engine cannot run, and that is where thieves run into trouble.

“What makes us different is we designed and install this product to work against the way thieves steal cars,” Biscevic explained. “When thieves go to steal a vehicle, they are going into the car, close the doors and go under the dash. That’s the thieves’ office, they know where everything is.”  

But with Ravelco, that all changes. The company protects wires under the dash with a steel conduit and the Ravelco installer works on the electrical system connections under the hood.   That, Biscevic said, is a game-changer that makes vehicles very difficult to steal. “With Ravelco installed, they’re going to have to get the hood open, they’re going to be working out in front of everything, and it’s going to take them a long time to try to figure out where we’ve made the connections,” Biscevic told FOX40. “Why that’s so good is it requires a thief to get in the open. They’re no longer in their comfort zone, they’re easily seen. If they don’t have the tools to get where we made the connections, they’re never going to get by, and that’s really what’s made us so successful,” he continued.  Biscevic said they’re so successful, that in the company’s 45-year history, a vehicle has never been stolen when the product was properly installed.

Clients like Charles Wooldridge back that up. He is the fleet service manager at Northern California-based Therma LLC, where his job is to maintain more than 700 vehicles.  In the early 2000s, thieves managed to steal at least 15 vehicles from Therma. Since then, even as thieves have tried, again and again, not one Therma vehicle has been stolen.

“No success at all … to get a vehicle started,” Wooldridge said.

And that’s exactly what happened to the thief or thieves who tried to steal Silveira’s truck on Monday. Silveira had Ravelco installed just last month in hopes his $16,000 truck would never fall victim to thieves. “If I lost all of that in one quick sweep because someone can just steal it in two seconds, it would just be brutal,” he said. “I’m not paid to say this or anything, but I even called Ravelco and said, ‘Thank you, guys. You’re the reason I still got my vehicle.’”

If you would like to look into Ravelco, head to nohotwire.com.