Worried about getting your car stolen? Here's a brilliant solution: Don't leave it unlocked. Here's where people did...

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…

StateRankStateRankStateRankStateStateRank
Nevada1Indiana11Nebraska21Vermont31Louisiana41
Oklahoma2California12Kansas22Idaho32New York42
Michigan3New Mexico13Connecticut23Wisconsin33North Carolina43
Montana4Oregon14Illinois24Delaware34Mississippi44
Colorado5New Jersey15Utah25South Carolina35New Hampshire45
Iowa6South Dakota16Texas26Tennessee36Arkansas46
Rhode Island7Georgia17Maryland27Massachusetts37West Virginia47
Ohio8Florida18Alaska28Maine38Virginia48
Missouri9Kentucky19Wyoming29North Dakota39Alabama49
Minnesota10Washington20Arizona30Pennsylvania40Hawaii50

But these numbers are probably an underestimate.

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“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.

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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?

Meet the Author

Jess Miller

Jess Miller

Writer

Miller is the former assistant editor of Debt.com.

Home, Lifestyle

holidays, insurance, theft

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Article last modified on October 14, 2016. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 126,000 Auto Thefts That Could’ve Been Avoided - AMP.