Warming Up That Vehicle May Lead to a Ticket

keysincarnicbAs frigid temperatures and wintry blasts have hit a large section of the nation, drivers are increasingly “puffing” – warming up their parked vehicles before heading out on the road. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) warns that leaving an unlocked car running with the keys or fob inside can lead to two unwanted scenarios.

First, it makes your vehicle a prime target for an opportunistic car thief. In fact, one of out every eight vehicles stolen in 2015 had the keys or fob left inside. That can cost you a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on your level of theft insurance.

Second, in an effort to reduce unnecessary thefts, many states and municipalities have passed laws banning “puffing.” It’s illegal to leave the car running and unlocked, even in your driveway. Remote starters that allow you to start the engine while the car is safely locked up without the keys are usually considered a safe alternative.

“Getting a warning or a ticket is preferable to having your car stolen,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “As we’ve reported previously, 57,000 vehicles were stolen in one year with the keys left inside. That’s one every six-and-a-half minutes. And when you add up the costs of replacing those vehicles, it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of those cars are not insured against theft and the owner is left holding the bag and paying for a new car.”

NICB recently produced new public service announcements related to this issue and they are now airing on media outlets around the country. Here are the links to view them: Leaving Your Keys in Your Vehicle and Warming Up Your Car.

To view a list of states where it is illegal to leave a vehicle unattended while running click here.

Warming Up Your Car Might Leave You Standing in the Cold

As we first reported last April the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found a disturbing trend — an increasing number of thefts of vehicles with the keys left inside.

NICBKeysThe reasons that people leave keys in their vehicles are numerous, but none of them is worth the hassle of having your car stolen. Leaving your vehicle running while you run into a store for a quick cup of coffee or to warm it up before a chilly winter commute might make sense to an individual, but it creates a perfect moment for a car thief who looks for such an opportunity.

Earlier today Good Morning America reported on these types of crimes.

The top five states that posted the most vehicle thefts with keys during this reporting period were California (19,597), Texas (8,796), Florida (7,868), Michigan (7,726), and Ohio (7,452). The top five core-based statistical areas (CBSA) were Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (6,185), Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (4,882), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (3,234), Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD (3,141) and New York-Newark-Jersey City (2,917).

Looking at day-of-week data, Saturday saw the most thefts with keys (19,147) followed by Friday (18,719) and Monday (18,647).

The full NICB report can be viewed and downloaded here.


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.

Leave Your Keys, Lose Your Car

DES PLAINES, Ill., April 27, 2015 — In a first-of-its-kind analysis of vehicle thefts released today, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found a disturbing trend — an increasing number of thefts of vehicles with the keys left inside.

For the years 2012 through 2014, at total of 126,603 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in the vehicle.

While overall vehicle thefts are declining, vehicles stolen with keys left inside are trending in the opposite direction.

As a percentage of overall thefts, 5.4 percent of vehicles stolen (39,345) in 2012 had their keys in them. That figure rose to 6 percent (42,430) in 2013, and in 2014, it increased again to 6.7 percent (44,828).

To show the significance of these numbers, if the 44,828 thefts were removed from 2014’s reported estimated total of 659,717*, the thefts would fall to 614,889. The last time national vehicle thefts were that low was 1966.

“Stealing a vehicle is very difficult with today’s anti-theft technology and leaving the keys in the vehicle is an open invitation for the opportunistic car thief,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.

“Am I shocked by these numbers? Not one bit. In fact, 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. Many times that is not admitted in the police report or the insurance claim. We also see some cases where the owner gives up the car by leaving the keys in it to allow it to be stolen so that an insurance claim payment can help them get out from under a financial bind. Anyone who does that is committing fraud.”

The reasons that people leave keys in their vehicles are numerous, but none of them is worth the hassle of having your car stolen. Leaving your vehicle running while you run into a store for a quick cup of coffee or to warm it up before a chilly winter commute might make sense to an individual, but it creates a perfect moment for a car thief who looks for such an opportunity.

The top five states that posted the most vehicle thefts with keys during this reporting period were California (19,597), Texas (8,796), Florida (7,868), Michigan (7,726), and Ohio (7,452). The top five core-based statistical areas (CBSA) were Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (6,185), Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (4,882), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (3,234), Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD (3,141) and New York-Newark-Jersey City (2,917).

Looking at day-of-week data, Saturday saw the most thefts with keys (19,147) followed by Friday (18,719) and Monday (18,647).

The full report can be viewed and downloaded here. See a video here.

*659,717 is based on the FBI’s preliminary semiannual 2014 vehicle theft data indicating a reduction of 5.7 percent from 2013.

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.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote $371 billion in insurance premiums in 2013, or more than 78 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($168 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.