The surprising reason why car thefts are skyrocketing


More and more drivers are reporting their vehicles stolen after accidentally leaving their keys inside the car, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

This type of car theft has increased by 31% over the past three years.

Read more: How to stop a car thief? Hide your owner’s manual!

Here’s why car thefts are on the rise 

The NICB says that many people won’t admit to leaving their car unlocked with the keys inside, so the number of these thefts may be even higher.

The study found there were 57,096 thefts with keys in 2015, up 22% from the year before. 

“Anti-theft technology has had a tremendous impact on reducing thefts over the past 25 years, but if you don’t lock it up, it’s not going to help,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Complacency can lead to a huge financial loss and inconvenience for the vehicle owner. Leaving a vehicle unlocked or with the key or FOB inside gives a thief the opportunity to take not only the car, but also any possessions inside. It can also provide access to your personal information if the registration is left in the glove compartment.’

From 2013 through 2015, the most vehicle thefts with keys happened in these states: California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Nevada. Only Hawaii had no reports of this type of theft. 

Why the sudden spike? It’s hard to say for sure, but perhaps it has something to do with the rising popularity of keyless ignition systems.

Many newer cars don’t require you to insert a key to turn the vehicle on or off, making it easier to forget the keys.

The NICB says at least one in eight vehicle thefts happen when keys are left inside, so follow these tips to prevent your car from being stolen:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or fobs. 
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee.
  • Never leave anything with personal or identifying information in your glove compartment.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.

Read more: These are America’s 10 most stolen vehicles

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