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.

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:

Joe Brenckle
Director, Public Affairs

Nicholas Zeitlinger
Public Affairs Specialist

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 Oak Brook, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property-casualty insurers, self-insureds, rental car, vehicle finance, and auto auctions. To learn more, visit