how to avoid auto theft

126,000 Auto Thefts That Could’ve Been Avoided

If you’re going to Vegas, don’t gamble your car away.

Las Vegas is the No. 1 city in the country for getting your car stolen — if you leave your keys in it, anyway.

According to a report just released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting insurance fraud, a total of 126,603 vehicles were stolen between 2012 and 2014 because owners left their cars unlocked with the keys still inside.

Why? The excuses included:

  • leaving the keys in the ignition while the owner runs into a gas station or coffee shop
  • leaving a vehicle running to warm up in the wintertime
  • tossing the keys in the console without locking up

To take a closer look, we asked NICB for state-by-state data and plotted it on the map below, ranking the states by key-included thefts per capita. Check it out, and then read on for other interesting things from the report…

State Rank State Rank State Rank State State Rank
Nevada 1 Indiana 11 Nebraska 21 Vermont 31 Louisiana 41
Oklahoma 2 California 12 Kansas 22 Idaho 32 New York 42
Michigan 3 New Mexico 13 Connecticut 23 Wisconsin 33 North Carolina 43
Montana 4 Oregon 14 Illinois 24 Delaware 34 Mississippi 44
Colorado 5 New Jersey 15 Utah 25 South Carolina 35 New Hampshire 45
Iowa 6 South Dakota 16 Texas 26 Tennessee 36 Arkansas 46
Rhode Island 7 Georgia 17 Maryland 27 Massachusetts 37 West Virginia 47
Ohio 8 Florida 18 Alaska 28 Maine 38 Virginia 48
Missouri 9 Kentucky 19 Wyoming 29 North Dakota 39 Alabama 49
Minnesota 10 Washington 20 Arizona 30 Pennsylvania 40 Hawaii 50

But these numbers are probably an underestimate.

“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,” said NICB president Joe Wehrle in a statement.

Overall, NICB says car thefts have actually been going down. If cars stolen with the keys still inside were taken out of the equation, the number of car thefts for 2014 would total 614,889. The last time car thefts were that low was almost 50 years ago, in 1966.


People are more “forgetful” during the holidays

The top ten dates of drivers getting their cars stolen with the keys inside all occur during the last five weeks of the year — with the last week of the year being the worst. The No. 1 day for key-included car thefts was on New Years Day in 2014, with 177 thefts reported.

The day of the week matters, too: Fridays and Saturdays are the biggest days for car thefts.

NICB suggests that thefts are more likely to happen during the cold winter months because people leave their cars running to warm them up. It could be that — but we think it’s more likely people are having too much fun celebrating Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve.

But the year your car was made matters, too

If nothing else, this report might convince you that getting a newer car with upgraded safety features is worth it.

By far, the vehicles most likely to be stolen were manufactured between the years 2000 and 2004.  Newer vehicles made between 2010-2015 were the least likely to get stolen, thanks to improved anti-theft technology. More of the newer-model cars can be remotely started without needing to keep keys in the ignition, giving less opportunity to potential car thieves.

But come on — how hard is it to not leave your keys in the car?

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