Nearly half of all vehicle thefts occur as crimes of opportunity resulting from driver error, such as leaving the keys in the ignition

Don't Be a Target: Tips for Avoiding Auto Theft
Image: NCCC
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2016

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle is stolen somewhere in the United States every 43 seconds.

Of all those stolen vehicles, the majority of which are taken from areas where drivers commonly park and leave their vehicles unattended including in front of homes and along streets, only 56% are ever recovered.

According to NHTSA data, in 2013 there were nearly 700,000 motor vehicles reported stolen in the U.S. The estimated total value of vehicles stolen nationwide is approximately $4.1 billion.

Instances of auto theft are also most common in the warm summer months.

California has the highest auto theft rate, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia. Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada round out the top 10 states with the most annual vehicle thefts—though it can happen anywhere at any time!

Since nearly half of all vehicle thefts occur as crimes of opportunity resulting from driver error, such as leaving the keys in the ignition, many of them can easily be prevented.

To avoid being a target of car thieves, NHTSA recommends that you:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Always take your keys with you, do not leave them in or on your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle in a garage, if possible.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your vehicle has been stolen, contact the police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You'll need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. Be sure to contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of when you discovered your vehicle was stolen. If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.