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Losing the tailgate on a pickup truck, whether by accident or theft, may be a minor irritation – or a costly one. Tailgates can be easily damaged and dented from rear-end collisions or from hauling heavy loads. 

Replacement tailgates are in high demand. A tailgate that is outfitted with a backup camera and other electronics can cost approximately $3,000 to replace. The high cost of replacing tailgates has fueled black market demand. Stolen tailgates can end up on sites such as Ebay and Craigslist for resale. Other tailgates end up at scrap dealers as the rising cost of metal has made it lucrative to sell these parts. In addition, tailgates can be stolen quickly and without the use of complicated tools. Tailgates are being stolen from private vehicles, commercial vehicles and even vehicles parked on dealership lots.

Figure 3.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) ForeCAST on Pick-up Truck Tailgate Thefts Claims shows that insured tailgate thefts rose from 831 in 2012 to 1,090 in 2013 - an increase of 31 percent. While 92 percent of the 1,768 claims were associated with personal automobile policies; 153 claims, or 8 percent, were associated with commercial automobile policies. However, multiple commercial automobile claims each involved the theft of tailgates from multiple vehicles, as identified in the loss description. Therefore, the number of claims involving commercial automobile losses could be higher.

The top three states for tailgate thefts during this period were Texas (752), California (334) and Arizona (207). The cities reporting the most thefts were Houston (145), San Antonio (125) and Dallas (91).

Tailgate Theft Fig 2

Tailgate thefts can occur anywhere; several episodes of multiple thefts have occurred in single locations, such as auto dealers’ lots and shopping malls. Because a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock, can thwart criminals. These devices lock the hinge mechanism, and can either have a manual or electronic locking component. Electronic locks secure the tailgate when the rest of the doors are locked. Manual locks require the vehicle owner to use a key to manually lock the component. In addition, pickup truck owners can try parking their vehicles in locked garages or back them up tight against building walls.

To report possible insurance fraud or vehicle theft, call 800-TEL-NICB, text keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submit a form on the NICB website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on an iPhone or Android device.

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