Vehicle Theft Due to Keys Left Inside Continue to Climb

14 May 2019

Each day from Jan 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018, around 209 vehicles across the U.S. were stolen due to drivers leaving their fobs or keys inside their vehicles which attracted thieves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) made a report showing during this period of three years, there were 229,339 vehicles stolen this way. This increased by 56 percent since 2015. This increase went up rapidly to 88 percent.

The analysts reviewed the stolen vehicle file data from the National Crime Information Center to produce this report. They queried the records using thefts with keys and other variants of this nature as search criteria. The number of fobs or keys thefts left in vehicles might be significantly higher because a lot of drivers don’t admit they make this mistake and there aren’t any insurance claims or police reports reporting them.

Although there’s been a big decline in national vehicle thefts since 2003, recently, there have been several small increases in thefts, mostly in 2016 where there were 765,484 reported vehicles stolen — 57,726 increase from 2015. In that same year, there were 69,351 stolen vehicles due to fobs or keys being left in the vehicle, according to the report. There would have been a decrease instead of an increase in yearly vehicle thefts had these thefts not occurred.

The leading five states during this period with the most keys thefts were:

  • Nevada (11,391)
  • Ohio (12,596)
  • Texas (15,511)
  • Florida (17,300)
  • California (31,185)

The most keys thefts in the leading five Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) were:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (6,603)
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL (7,086)
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (7,501)
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (7,549)
  • Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (11,073)

Cooling and warming vehicles seemed to be involved in these thefts because most occurred in fall and winter. The first was December with 22,155, followed by 21,384 in January, 20,080 in November, 19,918 in October and 19,811 in July.

The leading five specific dates that had the majority of reported thefts were in December and January. January had four of the five. The leading spot was January 1, 2018 with 321 thefts. Then it was 309 thefts in January 3, 2018, followed by 307 in January 5, 2018, 299 in December 27, 2017 and 296 in January 2, 2018.

After the analysts reviewed the day-of-week data for theft occurrence, the preferred theft day was Monday with 34,948 thefts. Next was 33,582 on Friday, then 33,214 on Saturday, 32,100 on Sunday and finally, 32,085 on Tuesday.

It’s important you lock your vehicle and take the fob or key with you when leaving it, CEO and NICB President Joe Wehrle said. Anti-theft technology is effective, but you must use it.

Drivers are advised by NICB to:

  • Lock your vehicle, take your fobs or keys out and set your alarm.
  • Don’t keep your garage door opener inside your vehicle.
  • Never leave your vehicle unlocked and running when you stop somewhere quickly or when warming it up. It takes but only a moment for a thief to hop in your vehicle and drive off with it.

You can view and download the full report here.

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