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Thefts of vehicles with keys left inside continue to rise nationwide

Posted March 29, 2019

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Every day from Jan. 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2018, an average of 209 vehicles were stolen across the U.S. because drivers left their keys or fobs in their vehicles, making them attractive targets for thieves.

A new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that during this three-year period, 229,339 vehicles were stolen in this way — a 56 percent increase since 2015. When including the numbers from 2013, that increase balloons to 88 percent.

Analysts reviewed data contained in the National Crime Information Center’s stolen vehicle file to produce this report. Records were queried using thefts with keys and similar variants as search criteria. The number of thefts with keys or fobs left inside may be substantially higher since many drivers don’t admit to making the mistake, and it’s often not reported in the police report or insurance claim.

Texas was the No. 3 state for most thefts with keys during this period, behind California and Florida.

The Dallas-Fort Worth region was the No. 5 statistical area with the most thefts, falling behind Las Vegas, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Atlanta metro and Chicago.

NICB advises drivers to:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or fobs.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
  • Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone and do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee. It only takes a moment for an opportunistic thief to jump in and drive off.

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