Jack Balkin: jackbalkin at yahoo.com
Bruce Ackerman bruce.ackerman at yale.edu
Ian Ayres ian.ayres at yale.edu
Corey Brettschneider corey_brettschneider at brown.edu
Mary Dudziak mary.l.dudziak at emory.edu
Joey Fishkin joey.fishkin at gmail.com
Heather Gerken heather.gerken at yale.edu
Abbe Gluck abbe.gluck at yale.edu
Mark Graber mgraber at law.umaryland.edu
Stephen Griffin sgriffin at tulane.edu
Jonathan Hafetz jonathan.hafetz at shu.edu
Jeremy Kessler jkessler at law.columbia.edu
Andrew Koppelman akoppelman at law.northwestern.edu
Marty Lederman msl46 at law.georgetown.edu
Sanford Levinson slevinson at law.utexas.edu
David Luban david.luban at gmail.com
Gerard Magliocca gmaglioc at iupui.edu
Jason Mazzone mazzonej at illinois.edu
Linda McClain lmcclain at bu.edu
John Mikhail mikhail at law.georgetown.edu
Frank Pasquale pasquale.frank at gmail.com
Nate Persily npersily at gmail.com
Michael Stokes Paulsen michaelstokespaulsen at gmail.com
Deborah Pearlstein dpearlst at yu.edu
Rick Pildes rick.pildes at nyu.edu
David Pozen dpozen at law.columbia.edu
Richard Primus raprimus at umich.edu
K. Sabeel Rahmansabeel.rahman at brooklaw.edu
Alice Ristroph alice.ristroph at shu.edu
Neil Siegel siegel at law.duke.edu
David Super david.super at law.georgetown.edu
Brian Tamanaha btamanaha at wulaw.wustl.edu
Nelson Tebbe nelson.tebbe at brooklaw.edu
Mark Tushnet mtushnet at law.harvard.edu
Adam Winkler winkler at ucla.edu
But the substance of our study was to show that Lojack (the hidden transmitter that helps cops track down your car if it's stollen) has a powerful general deterrent effect. Professional thieves get scared from taking cars generally when they can't tell which cars are protected.
When we originally studied Lojack, we though that it would help you get your car back if it was stollen but that it would not reduce the chance that anyone would steal your car (because a thief who doesn't know if your car is protected or not).
But in working with Barry Nalebuff a couple of years ago, I actually had a chance to ride one night with New Haven's finest in a police car where we tracked down a lojack equipped car that had been stollen. It turns out the car had been "stollen" by the owner's cousin. The owner had purchased the car used and didn't know that it had Lojack in it. So when the owner tried to steal his own car (with his cousin's help) for the insurance money, Lojack led the cops straight to the cousin's house.
Lojack uncovers self-steeling of used cars fairly often. But what's more important is that Lojack stops a lot of people from stealing their own cars. Auto-insurance fraud is a big problem. But we don't know how big.
A cool empirical study that is just waiting to be done is to test whether Lojack cars are stollen less often than non-Lojack cars. I'm now guessing that they are and that the difference is a good estimate of how much self-steeling is going on.
Insurance companies should give a much bigger discount to Lojack users for two reason. 1) It helps reduce the chance that the cars of other insureds will be sotllen, and 2) It helps signal that the insured will not steel her own car. Posted
by Ian Ayres [link]
That's impressive, but isn't it likely to shift the crime elsewhere? It's widely reported that the appearance of The Club increased carjacking, because people could no longer steal cars when they were stationary. Shouldn't we expect that criminals denied the theft of a car will turn to other illegal means of making money? So maybe this is positive news for car-insurance companies, but isn't it completely neutral news for law enforcement?
Here's a deterrent effect: drive a car over 25 years old (like two of ours) that clearly is in need of a paint job or other conspicuous improvements. Professional thieves just aren't interested, and I can't blame them. Incidentally, insurance companies don't appear to be giving us a break on our rates.
I prosecute Grand Theft Auto, Carjacking, and Chop Shops. LoJack is extremely effective at recovery of individual vehicles and I would suspect it has a somewhat general deterrent effect. Funny enough though, I had a recent case where the culprit said he knew the car had a LoJack system but took it anyway. Deterrence doesn't always work on idiots.
Of course, it is important to the general deterrent effect that the existence of a LoJack system remain secret. If they start sticking LoJack stickers on cars equipped with it, then they would know, of course, which cars not to steal. In fact, I suspect, you could protect your car pretty good by sticking a mock LoJack sticker on it because car thieves are aware of how effective it is.
As an aside, I don't think there is any validity to the idea that having a club increases the risk of a carjacking. There are plenty of cars around without a club.