Thefts of vehicles with keys left inside continue to rise
A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that during the 3-year period from 2016-2018, a total of 229,339 vehicles were stolen because drivers left their keys in their vehicles — a 56% increase since 2015. (Photo: Shutterstock)
It’s not a smart move, but it happens everyday. Someone’s in a hurry and either by accident or on purpose, leaves the keys in their vehicle. Risky behavior.
On every single day from January 1, 2016, through December 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.
56% increase since 2015
A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that during the 3-year period from 2016-2018, a total of 229,339 vehicles were stolen because drivers left their keys in their vehicles — a 56% increase since 2015. When including the numbers from 2013, that increase balloons to 88%.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of locking your vehicle and taking the key or fob with you when you leave it,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Anti-theft technology works, but only if you use it.”
NICB 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 not reported in the police report or insurance claim.
69,351 vehicles stolen as a result of keys/fobs left in vehicle
While national vehicle thefts have enjoyed a steep decline since 2003, in recent years, there have been some upticks in thefts. In 2016, a total of 765,484 vehicles were reported stolen — an increase of 57,726 from 2015.
According to the latest report, in that same year, 69,351 vehicles were stolen as a result of keys or fobs remaining in the vehicle. Had those complacency thefts not occurred, 2016 would have posted a decrease rather than an increase in annual vehicle thefts.
Top 10 states & metro areas
The top 10 states with the most thefts with keys during this period were:
California (31,185). Florida (17,300). Texas (15,511). Ohio (12,596). Nevada (11,391). Georgia (9,128) Illinois (8,308) Wisconsin (7,846) Indiana (7,771) Michigan (7,521)
The top 10 Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) with the most thefts with keys were:
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada (11,073). Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida (7,549). Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia (7,501). Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Illinois (7,086). Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6,603). Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis , Wisconsin (6,341). Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota (6,327). Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky/Indiana (5,702). Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana (5,519). Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California (5,101). Warming & cooling vehicles played a part in thefts
Warming and cooling vehicles seems to have played a part in these thefts since the most occurred in winter and fall. December was first with 22,155. It was followed by January (21,384), November (20,080), October (19,918) and July (19,811).
The top five specific dates with the most reported thefts were in January and December, with January having four of the five. January 1, 2018, was the top spot with 321 thefts. January 3, 2018, was next with 309 thefts, followed by January 5, 2018 (307), December 27, 2017 (299) and January 2, 2018 (296).
Reviewing day-of-week theft occurrence data, Monday was the preferred theft day with 34,948 thefts. Friday was next with 33,582, followed by Saturday (33,214), Sunday (32,100) and Tuesday (32,085).
Tips to avoid vehicle theft
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 the opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.