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The engine immobilizer: a non-starter for car thieves

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  • van Ours, Jan C
  • Vollaard, Ben

Abstract

We provide evidence for a beneficial welfare impact of a crime policy that is targeted at strenghtening 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9298.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9298

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

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  1. Ian Ayres & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Measuring Positive Externalities From Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis Of Lojack," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 43-77, February.
  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.
  3. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2013. "Private protection against crime when property value is private information," DICE Discussion Papers 91, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
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  7. Christoffel Grechenig & Martin Kolmar, 2011. "The State’s Enforcement Monopoly and the Private Protection of Property," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_24, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
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  9. 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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  12. Philip J. Cook & John MacDonald, 2011. "Public Safety through Private Action: an Economic Assessment of BIDS," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 445-462, 05.
  13. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Economical Crime Control," NBER Working Papers 16513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hui-Wen, Koo & Png, I. P. L., 1994. "Private security: Deterrent or diversion?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 87-101, March.
  15. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 1999. "Gated Communities and the Economic Geography of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 80-105, July.
  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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