Thefts of Vehicles with Keys Left Inside Continue to Rise

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Every 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. The latest report from the NICB shows that during this three-year period, 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.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8429552-nicb-vehicle-thefts-with-keys-inside-report/

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 today’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.

The top five states with the most thefts with keys during this period were: California (31,185), Florida (17,300), Texas (15,511), Ohio (12,596) and Nevada (11,391).

The top five Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) with the most thefts with keys were: Las VegasHenderson-Paradise, NV (11,073); MiamiFort LauderdaleWest Palm Beach, FL (7,549); AtlantaSandy SpringsRoswell, GA (7,501); ChicagoNapervilleElgin, IL (7,086); and Dallas-Fort WorthArlington, TX (6,603).

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).

“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 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.

The full report can be viewed and downloaded here.  The full dataset is here. Download an infographic here and a video is available as well.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

NICB West Region Task Forces – Vehicle Recovery Numbers January 2019

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NICB’s West Region Auto Theft Task Forces have impressive numbers to report for the month of January. These task forces, from California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Arizona, are made up of local, county, and state law enforcement, along with agents from the NICB.

During the month of January, 11 separate Vehicle Task Forces in these four states recovered a total of 467 stolen vehicles (and assisted with 49 stolen vehicle recoveries), for a total recovery value of $4,830,934.

In addition to recovering stolen vehicles and helping return them to their rightful owners, these teams made auto theft related arrests, initiated vehicle theft investigations, conducted vehicle inspections, parole and probation searches, business inspections, conducted insurance fraud related criminal investigations, investigated a chop shop, and assisted other law enforcement agencies.

NICB West Region Task Force Activity for 2018

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*Article updated 1/29/19 with new numbers from additional task force reporting.

The NICB West Region Auto Theft Task Force numbers for 2018 show an impressive number of stolen vehicle recoveries. The West Region includes the states of California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Nevada, and the task forces include NICB employees, along with local, county, and state law enforcement.

Totals from 11 separate task forces reveal in 2018, 5,354 stolen vehicles were recovered. The value of those recovered vehicles adds up to $49,739,260.00.

Vehicle recoveries are just one part of the task forces workload. They also assist with investigations, arrests, searches, inspections, uncovering chop shops, training, and much more.

 

2018 Foreign Operations Repatriation Statistics

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During 2018, Foreign Operations located 2,536 vehicles and recovered 2,485 vehicles from foreign countries. The total number of vehicles repatriated in 2018 is a 4.5-percent increase from the number of vehicles recovered in 2017, which totaled 2,378 vehicles.

Below is a brief overview of the top recovery cities, top makes/models located, and top theft cities based on the 2,536 vehicles located during 2018.

Top 5 Recovery Cities
1. Tijuana, Baja California (880)
2. Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua (140)
3. Nogales, Sonora (136)
4. Hermosillo, Sonora (101)
5. Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (100)

Top 5 Makes Located
1. Ford (412)
2. Chevrolet (405)
3. Nissan (308)
4. Toyota (222)
5. Honda (177)

Top 5 Models Located
1. Ford F150 (145)
2. Chevrolet Silverado (108)
3. Toyota Camry (90)
4. Nissan Altima (74)
5. Honda Accord (72)

Top 5 Theft Cities by ORI
1. San Diego Police Department (217)
2. El Paso Police Department (130)
3. Phoenix Police Department (96)
4. California Highway Patrol- San Diego (92)
5. Tucson Police Department (75)

NICB West Region Task Forces – Vehicle Recovery Numbers

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NICB’s West Region Auto Theft Task Forces were hard at work during the month of November. These task forces, from California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Arizona, are made up of local, county, and state law enforcement, along with agents from the NICB.

During the month of November, 11 separate Vehicle Task Forces recovered a total of 411 stolen vehicles, valued at $4,184,910.

Of note – Delta RATT investigators located two ransacked stolen vehicles dumped near the residence of a male probationer with two outstanding felony warrants. When investigators appeared to search the residence, the man hid in the attic. A police K-9 forced the man to surrender after the man fell through the living room ceiling. The man now faces resisting arrest charges, and faces seven years in prison on the outstanding warrants.

In addition to recovering stolen vehicles and helping return them to their rightful owners, these teams make auto theft related arrests, serve search warrants, launch investigations, conduct vehicle inspections, investigate chop shops, and assist other law enforcement agencies.

 

Hackers at the Wheel

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The mystery device has been a popular topic the past couple of years for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  Kris Van Cleave of CBS reports on how thieves are allegedly using laptops to break into vehicles and drive away in a matter of minutes.

 

Thief Steals $15,000 Bike Using Electronic Device

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As we’ve reported earlier thieves have been using an “unknown device” to gain access into vehicles and steal the contents in the vehicle.

These electronic “scanner boxes” allows the thief to mimic the signal emitted by key fobs that open car doors with the click of a button. Once inside, thieves can steal personal items.

Sausalito (CA) police said last Thursday a man used this same type of device to unlock a vehicle. Surveillance footage shows the suspect casing a parked black Audi. He approaches the car and taps the passenger’s door handle. The doors unlock and the man is able to walk away with a suitcase and a $15,000 Cervelo custom bike.

Video courtesy of ABC 7 KGO