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Think Twice When Leaving Your Keys in Vehicle

Think Twice When Leaving Your Keys in Vehicle

Ohio Ranks Fourth Nationally in Most Vehicle Thefts with Keys Left Inside

If you live in Ohio and are known to leave your keys in your vehicle, whether to warm it up, cool it down, or simply for convenience, you’re more likely than those living in 46 other states to have your vehicle stolen. A new report released from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows Ohio ranks fourth nationally with the most vehicle thefts when keys are left inside. 

From January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2018, Ohio experienced 12,596 vehicle thefts with keys left inside. The three states ahead of Ohio are California (31,185), Florida (17,300), and Texas (15,511) and Nevada ranks fifth (11,391). Nationally during this three year period, an average of 209 vehicles were stolen per day across the U.S. because drivers left their keys or fobs in their vehicles making them attractive targets for thieves. A total of 229,339 vehicles were stolen in this manner—a 56 percent increase since 2015. When including the numbers from 2013, that increase balloons to 88 percent. 

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.  

While national vehicle thefts have enjoyed a steep decline since 2003, in recent years, there have been some upticks in thefts; most notably in 2016 when 765,484 vehicles were reported stolen—an increase of 57,726 from 2015. According to NICB’s 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.  

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).

Ohio Insurance Institute president, Dean Fadel points out another reason not to leave your car running & unattended.

“According to Popular Mechanics, warming up your car in winter before driving is actually really bad for your car’s engine. Driving your car right away is the fastest way to warm up your engine, and will prolong the life of your engine instead of letting it sit idly before driving,” said Fadel. “It could also prolong your ownership of the car by making it less likely it will be stolen.”

Though Ohio is a high ranking state for stolen vehicles, it may have a better chance than other states of that vehicle being recovered. 

“Thankfully Ohio’s police and State Highway Patrol do a great job of recovering stolen vehicles,” said Fadel. “Ohio was not one of the top ten states noted in the NICB report that have the highest rate of unrecovered vehicle thefts when keys are left in the vehicle.”

The NICB offers tips to decrease the likelihood of your vehicle being stolen:

  • 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.
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