More and more drivers are making it easy for thieves. A new report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has found an increasing number of thefts of vehicles with the keys left inside.
For the years 2012 through 2014, at total of 126,603 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in the vehicle.
While overall vehicle thefts are declining, vehicles stolen with keys left inside are trending in the opposite direction.
As a percentage of overall thefts, 5.4 percent of vehicles stolen (39,345) in 2012 had their keys in them. That figure rose to 6 percent (42,430) in 2013, and in 2014, it increased again to 6.7 percent (44,828).
To show the significance of these numbers, if the 44,828 thefts were removed from 2014’s reported estimated total of 659,717, the thefts would fall to 614,889. The last time national vehicle thefts were that low was 1966.
The top five states that posted the most vehicle thefts with keys during this reporting period were California (19,597), Texas (8,796), Florida (7,868), Michigan (7,726), and Ohio (7,452).
The top five core-based statistical areas were Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6,185), Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich. (4,882), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (3,234), Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (3,141) and New York-Newark-Jersey City (2,917).
Looking at day-of-week data, Saturday saw the most thefts with keys (19,147) followed by Friday (18,719) and Monday (18,647).
“Stealing a vehicle is very difficult with today’s anti-theft technology and leaving the keys in the vehicle is an open invitation for the opportunistic car thief,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.
Wehrle was not shocked by the numbers? “In fact, I’m sure the numbers are probably higher, because we are only able to determine the thefts where the car was recovered with the keys inside, or where someone admitted they left the keys in the car or the ignition. Many times that is not admitted in the police report or the insurance claim,” he said.
He said NICB also see cases where the owner gives up the car by leaving the keys in it to allow it to be stolen. “Anyone who does that is committing fraud,” he said.
Leaving a vehicle running while running into a store or to warm it up before a chilly winter commute might make sense to an individual, but it creates a perfect moment for a car thief who looks for such an opportunity, NICB warns.
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