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National Insurance Crime Bureau

NICB: Leaving Keys In Your Car Can Leave You Without Your Car

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2017-2019 Auto Theft With Keys Report

DES PLAINES, Ill., September 14—Nearly a quarter million vehicles were stolen from 2017 through 2019 with their keys left inside according to an updated report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). However, of the 244,845 vehicles stolen with their keys inside, most were recovered.

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.

Auto Theft With Keys Infographic

While national vehicle thefts have enjoyed a steady decline for the past several years, thefts with keys has reported steady increases. In 2017, there were 78,345 vehicles stolen with their keys, 82,369 in 2018, and 84,131 in 2019.

The top five states with the most thefts with keys during this period were: California (32,060); Florida (17,802); Texas (17,416); Ohio (13,090); and Nevada (11,603).

The top five Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) with the most thefts with keys were: Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada (11,292); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (7,257); Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6,113); Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida (5,642); Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana (5,603).

While there is concern for the number of thefts with keys, there is a silver lining as most of these thefts are recovered. Of the 244,845 thefts of cars with keys, only 12,355 remain unrecovered, a 95 percent recovery rate.

Though the likelihood of recovery is high, NICB advises drivers to do their part in preventing thefts. NICB recommends:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or fob.
  • 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.

Media Contact

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Tully Lehman
Public Affairs Manager
925.758.0744
tlehman@nicb.org

Brooke Kelley
Vice President of Communications
847.544.7085
bkelley@nicb.org

Or, if you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

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, learning and development, government affairs and public affairs. The NICB is supported by more than 1,400 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $525 billion in insurance premiums in 2019, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($241 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.