Car theft as a public service

This is a provocative title, which may be the reason you are reading this. I am not saying that all car theft is a public service. Only when the car in question has a noisy car alarm.

Why? a few reasons:

  1. Most of the occasions when we hear a car alarm, it is not because the car is being stolen–it is because the car was inadvertently jostled. So most of the time, the car alarm is nothing but a public nuisance. Stealing the car removes this nuisance from a neighborhood that has probably heard the car alarm too many times.
  2. Since car alarms rarely signal a car actually being stolen, people (including owners of alarmed cars) generally don’t take them seriously. If a car is stolen despite having an alarm, there is a chance (a slim one) that the owner will realize the futility of using a car alarm and choose not to install one in the future.
  3. Thanks to lobbying by the car-alarm industry, insurers are required to offer lower rates to owners of alarmed cars. Seriously. But if the rate of theft for alarmed cars were to exceed non-alarmed cars, the insurance industry could probably get this reversed on an actuarial basis, removing an incentive for car alarms.