Between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018, there was an average of 209 cars stolen each day with one common cause: the keys or key fobs were left inside the vehicle. That’s according to a report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The group reports there has been an 88% increase since 2013 in car thefts of vehicles with the keys left in.

The NICB believes this figure could be higher since many drivers don’t fess up to this mistake to the police or their insurance companies.

Keeping vehicles warm or cold may play a significant role in why drivers leave the keys in unattended cars. Most thefts take place in the winter and fall.

Months with the Most Car Thefts with Keys 2016-2018

Month Total number of thefts with keys in the vehicle
December 21,155
January 21,384
November 20,080
October 19,918
July 19,811
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau, ForeCAST Report, March 19, 2019

The NICB found that the top 10 states for car theft with keys, below, accounted for 56% of all car thefts with keys in the United States.

States with the Most Car Thefts with Keys 2016-2018

State Total Number of Car Thefts with Keys
California 31,185
Florida 17,300
Texas 15,511
Ohio 12,596
Nevada 11,391
Georgia 9,128
Illinois 8,308
Wisconsin 7,846
Indiana 7,771
Michigan 7,521
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau, ForeCAST Report March 19, 2019

The NICB offers this advice:

  • Don’t leave your car running and unattended.
  • Lock your car, set the alarm and take all keys and key fobs.
  • Don’t leave your garage door opener in your car.

If your car is stolen and you have comprehensive insurance, you can file a claim with your auto insurance company. But first, call the police. You’ll need a police report to file a theft claim for insurance. Here’s what to do if your car is stolen.