A car robbery was recently foiled in St. Louis, Mo., as the thief could not drive a stick shift. Similar reports occur fairly regularly, so it is safe to say that a manual transmission is an effective theft deterrent.
Manual foils car robbery
A great anti-theft device for cars might be an old and low-tech device compared to complicated alarm systems, namely a manual transmission.
According to AutoBlog, a man in St. Louis, Mo., was recently held up at gunpoint and instructed by the thief to move to the passenger seat and hand over any money he had. He handed over $24 and slid into the seat. When the carjacker got into the car, he discovered, to his dismay that it was a manual. The car’s owner then offered a ride home to the thief, who accepted and thanked the driver when they reached the destination.
Fewer manuals ergo fewer can drive them
A stick shift is a deterrent because fewer cars have them and, naturally, fewer people car drive them. According to Fox Business, only 6.7 percent of new car sales in 2010 were manual transmission-equipped cars, compared to 22.2 percent in 1990 and 34.6 percent in 1980. As fewer people are driving them, more instances occur of a manual transmission foiling a car theft.
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However, as a police officer quoted by Fox points out, the deterrent depends on the thief being a mechanical nincompoop. A manual is in neutral when parked, which means it can easily be pushed away from its parking spot. A thief that knows what they are doing, on the other hand, can easily make off with a vehicle.
Still funny to read about
Thieves foiled by manual transmissions still make for an entertaining read. For instance, according to Reuters UK, two teenagers approached a man outside a pizza restaurant in June, 2007, taking his wallet and car keys. However, due to the manual transmission, they could only operate the stereo. The police arrived while they were trying to figure out how to make the car work.
In 2008, according to Inside Line, one Frank Singleton tried to rob a woman of her Nissan 350ZX outside the jail he had just been released from in West Palm Beach, Fla., but couldn’t drive a manual. Singleton was arrested in the parking lot and was booked on the felony charge of car theft. His previous charge was only a misdemeanor. Singleton, according to the University of Kansas City-Missouri newspaper, was sentenced to six years in prison.
In May 2010, According to Crime Voice, a California crime news website, two thieves were twice foiled by the manual transmission in the same car in two days. The pair stole the car on Thursday, May 20, abandoning it three blocks away when they couldn’t drive the manual. The car was recovered by the owner the next day, only to find the thieves failing to get it in gear again later that night. They were arrested and charged with car theft.
Inside Line: http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2008/03/stick-shift–car-theft-deterrent.html
Crime Voice: http://crimevoice.com/santa-barbara-duo-bungles-car-theft-%E2%80%94-twice-3692/