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The Engine Immobilizer: A Non-Starter for Car Thieves

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  • Jan C. van Ours
  • Ben Vollaard

Abstract

We provide evidence for a beneficial welfare impact of a crime policy that is targeted at strengthening victim precaution. Regulation made application of the electronic engine immobilizer, a simple and low-cost anti-theft device, mandatory for all new cars sold within the European Union as of 1998. We exploit the regulation as source of exogenous variation in use of the device by year of manufacture of cars. Based on detailed data at the level of car models, we find that uniform application of the security device reduced the probability of car theft by an estimated 50 percent on average in the Netherlands during 1995-2008, accounting for both the protective effect on cars with the device and the displacement effect on cars without the device. The costs per prevented theft equal some 1,500 Euro; a fraction of the social benefits of a prevented car theft.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2013/wp-cesifo-2013-01/cesifo1_wp4092.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4092.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4092

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Keywords: car theft; government regulation; crime; victim precaution;

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  1. Christine Neill, 2010. "Do Gun Buybacks Save Lives? Evidence from Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 462-508.
  2. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-22, June.
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  9. Vollaard, B.A. & Ours, J.C. van, 2010. "Does Regulation of Built-in Security Reduce Crime? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center 2010-019, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  10. Cook, Philip J. & Ludwig, Jens, 2006. "The social costs of gun ownership," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 379-391, January.
  11. Ian Ayres & Steven D. Levitt, 1997. "Measuring Positive Externalities from Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis of Lojack," NBER Working Papers 5928, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Economical Crime Control," NBER Working Papers 16513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Shavell, Steven, 1991. "Individual precautions to prevent theft: Private versus socially optimal behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 123-132, September.
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  16. Lacroix Guy & Narceau Nicolas, 1995. "Private Protection against Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 72-87, January.
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