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Christine Delise
Sr. Public Relations Specialist, MD
O: (410) 616-1900 (ext. 4361153)
C: (443) 244-7253
cdelise@aaamidatlantic.com

TOWSON, MD (July 25, 2018) - Auto thefts are heading in the wrong direction in Maryland, and although the auto theft rate has fallen in Baltimore City, the jurisdiction remains the epicenter of auto thefts in the state, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic.

 

“While the auto theft rate in Maryland has dropped more than fifty percent since 2007, when the state recorded 28,393 stolen autos, auto thefts are still trending upward year over year, and unfortunately, your vehicle is still more likely to be stolen in July than in any other month of the year,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

 

For this reason, July has been designated “National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 1,900 vehicles are stolen each day across the United States.

 

“During the summer months, car thieves seem to be emboldened. It’s important not to let your guard down, as auto thefts often occur when most people have other matters closer to their heart, and on their minds, including vacation plans and spending leisure time with family and friends,” Averella said.

 

Yet, despite the seasonality of auto thievery, only about four out of ten Americans (38 percent) worry about their cars being stolen, according to a 2017 Gallup crime poll. Using a little common sense and readily available theft-prevention devices can minimize theft. The more layers of protection, the less likely your car will be stolen.

 

Instead of taking the time and trouble of hot wiring a car, which only takes a matter of seconds, many thieves are simply targeting unlocked cars. Statistically, 50 percent of the vehicles stolen in Maryland had the keys inside and 60 percent were left unlocked.

 

A car is stolen every 40 minutes on average in Maryland. An average of 17,904 were stolen each year across the state in the ten-year period from 2006 to 2015, according to Maryland’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report. That pales in comparison to 1994, when 38,194 vehicles were stolen statewide.

 

During 2016 (the most recent data available), auto thieves stole 13,847 vehicles across the state of Maryland, according to data compiled by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention’s (GOCCP) Maryland Statistical Analysis Center (MSAC). From 2007 to 2016, the auto theft rate in Maryland dropped by 51 percentage points.

 

Number of Motor Vehicle Thefts in Maryland

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

28,393

25,340

19,619

18,029

16,067

14,493

13,429

13,146

13,564

13,847

N/A

 

Baltimore has the dubious distinction of having the biggest “den of car thieves” in Maryland, despite a declining motor vehicle heist rate year over year. In 2016, 5,336 vehicles were stolen in the City, down by 205, compared to 5,541 stolen autos in 2015.  

Prince George’s County, which leads the Washington metro region in auto thefts also experienced a decline with 3,371 reported in 2016, compared to 3,431 in 2015. On the other side of the spectrum, Baltimore County’s 2016 auto theft rate increased from 1,770 in 2015 to 2,070 in 2016.

 

“In 2016, more than three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States—and nearly half of those thefts were due to driver error,” according to NHTSA. “Vehicle theft is a multi-billion-dollar crime, with the cost of stolen vehicles coming in at almost $6 billion in 2016 alone—up from $5 billion in 2015. Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft.”

 

Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles in the United States

1. Honda Accord

2. Honda Civic

3. Chevrolet Silverado

4. Toyota Camry

5. Ford F-150

6. Nissan Altima

7. Toyota Corolla

8. Ford F-250

9. Ford Econoline

10. Chevrolet Impala

 

“Radios and wheel covers aren't the only popular stolen vehicle parts thieves take. They want whatever sells, from the mandated labeled parts to those that aren’t,” cautions NHTSA. “Some of the most popular vehicle parts or valuable items stolen from vehicles include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses.”  

 

Keep the following in mind when looking at your auto insurance coverage, advises AAA Insurance:

  • Auto theft is covered under the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy. Theft coverage applies to the loss of the vehicle as well as parts of the car, such as air bags. 
  • Comprehensive coverage, which is not mandatory, also pays for fire, vandalism, and weather-related damage, including damage from flooding and earthquakes.
  • Rates for comprehensive insurance are affected by the risk of loss, meaning the likelihood that an insured car will be stolen or damaged, and also the car’s value at the time of the loss. 

AAA offers the following tips to help motorists prevent vehicle burglary and theft:

 

  • Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Even if you park your vehicle in a garage. This simple measure is added security. 
  • Never leave belongings out in the open in your car as they could tempt thieves.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not in it.
  • Keep your vehicle in secure, well-lit areas. When possible, park in a locked garage. Also, consider installing a motion-activated floodlight that illuminates the place where your car is parked.
  • Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
  • Remove spare keys from vehicle. Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle. Remove keys from under floor mats, etc.

 

Although auto theft rates had been declining in recent years across the nation, car theft remains an all too common crime. As a cautionary tale, motor vehicle thefts were up 4.1 percent nationwide, from January to June of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. That is according to preliminary estimates by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in its Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2017.

 

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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit AAA.com.

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