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Report: Nation Sees Rise in Thefts of Vehicles With Keys Left Inside

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/30/2015 Kelly Pleskot

Good news: Car thefts are on the decline nationwide. Bad news: More people are leaving their keys behind only to have their cars stolen.

Research

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a total of 39,345 vehicles were stolen with the keys left inside in 2012. Only 5.4 percent of all vehicle thefts involved leaving the keys behind that year. By 2013, thefts grew to 42,430 vehicles (6 percent), only to increase again to 44,828 vehicles (6.7 percent) last year. During all three years, a whopping 126,603 vehicles were stolen thanks to drivers leaving their keys inside, and 9 percent remained unrecovered by the end of 2014.

NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle isn't surprised by the statistics. "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," Wehrle said in a statement. "Many times that is not admitted in the police report or the insurance claim." Also, some unscrupulous owners purposely leave keys inside cars for thieves, all so they can pocket some ill-gotten insurance money.

2010-aston-martin-rapide-key© Provided by MotorTrend 2010-aston-martin-rapide-key

Unsurprisingly, older models were more likely to be stolen. A total of 8,175 vehicles from the 2000 model year were snatched, compared to just 2,423 vehicles from the 2014 model year. Newer vehicles have remote start, which means drivers aren't tempted to "warm the car up" like they would be on older models.

Which states were the worst at leaving keys behind in cars? California came in "first place," and since it's such a populated state, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Still, it's disappointing California won by such a huge margin with 19,597 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Harder to Steal" target="_blank">stolen vehicles with keys inside. Compare this to Texas, the runner-up, which reported 8,796 stolen cars during the study period. Florida came in third place (7,868), followed by Michigan (7,726), and Ohio (7,452).

Click here for the full report.

Source: NICB

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