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The effectiveness of vehicle security devices to prevent car crime in Chile

22 February 2012

Hugo Soto

This research is being funded by the Chilean government. Based on data from Chilean victimization survey –ENUSC-, this study assessed the effectiveness of more popular vehicle´ security devices used in Chile. From a theoretical perspective based primarily on theories of Rational Choice and Routine Activities, the hypothesis to test was that the use of safety devices in vehicles reduces their risk of being victimized.

It was also tested the hypothesis that, given the various preventive mechanisms that each of these security devices trigger, the preventive effects of security devices are differentiated both with respect to the devices themselves and in relation to two types of car crime examined - theft of and from vehicles. As more of car crime take place in residential parking, it was finally gauged the impact of each security device by residential parking locations.

Findings of this study suggest a high impact security device use in the risk of a vehicle from being stolen. In analyzing the effectiveness of each of the devices tested is concluded that the electronic immobilizers and coded keys are particularly effective in preventing these crimes. In a broader perspective, findings of this study proved the validity of Security Hypothesis, developed by Farrel et. al., and suggest that this hypothesis might be fruitful to analyze the dynamics of another kind of crimes in Chile.