Every 45 seconds a car is stolen in the United States. So who’s behind this crime?

David Mccoy was a professional car thief. Over the years, Mccoy estimates he ripped off nearly 75 cars and trucks.

Mccoy served his time in prison. He’s sharing his experiences to help you avoid becoming a victim of auto theft.

KGW: What type of cars did you steal?

David Mccoy: “There’s no rhyme or reason why I picked the cars that I picked. Everything from classic vehicles to broken down Hondas. Even at the airport. I mean, there were 500 vehicles there and I just picked whatever was closest to the exit. So it was all about opportunity.”

What was the easiest car to steal?

“Probably Fords. Newer Fords. They’re just easy. The big trucks are very easy. There’s only so many key cuts. You know, you’d think with a $30,000 or $40,000 vehicle that it would be difficult. But with the ignition system on them, there’s only so many key cuts.”

So, you’d use a fake key or duplicate key?

“You know certain vehicles you can use shave keys. If they are higher-end vehicles you might have to have one custom made. And so if you have a key guy -- pay your $150 or $200 bucks and no questions asked, they give you a key.”

I thought most new cars had a chip in the key? It was supposed to stop you?

“There was a period, early 2000s, when we had the chip technology in the laser cut keys and for some reason car manufacturers are going back to the old basic cuts.”

Okay, so what can people do to prevent their car from being stolen?

“Steering wheel locks. If it has a steering wheel lock, I won’t even go near the vehicle.”

What else can people do?

“The most important thing is just lock it up. It doesn’t matter if it is locked in the driveway or your home. Lock the vehicle because you never know.”

You were saying you’d often just check door handles?

“It’s called ‘Jockey Boxing.’ It’s where you check the door handles and see if they are unlocked. A lot of people keep an extra key. There’s usually a valet key in the owner manual in most cars, if the owners are lackadaisical and leave it in there, which is a pretty common occurrence.”

How about alarm systems? A lot of cars have factory alarms already installed.

“I mean, if you want the blinking light just to blink that is fine. But if someone opens up the driver side door, it disarms itself.”

So, get a better car alarm installed?

“Yes. It’s best to pay the extra $50 and have it done right.” (Mccoy was referring to the professional installation. An after-market alarm will cost more money.)

Ever steal a car with the LoJack system?

“I had an experience with that and it wasn’t fun. I got stuck inside the car. I was driving down Division and then the car started slowing down. The doors were locked, wheels started pulling to the right, so I pulled over and stopped and I couldn’t get out of the vehicle. It’s not something that I’ve seen a lot of and it was a scary experience.”

Why did you steal cars?

“When I first started it wasn’t that I was going out looking for cars. It was more of an opportunity and a joy ride. As I got older it turned into an opportunity to make some money.”

What would you do with them?

“Put them in a box, get rid of them, drop them off at a shop for parts.” (‘Box’ means Mccoy would put them in a shipping container to be sent elsewhere and re-sold illegally.)

David, thanks for sharing your story.

“I can’t change what I’ve done in the past- I can’t look in the rear view mirror. I can only do the next right thing and hope that I don’t create puddles in my own little pond. You know, as long I do the next right thing, hopefully my life will get a little bit better.”