If your morning caffeine isn’t enough to wake you up for the commute to work, perhaps this statistic will: In the time it takes you to reheat your coffee in the microwave, someone's car will be stolen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every 43 seconds a car somewhere in the U.S. is taken.
Want some more bad news? Only 56% of vehicles reported stolen — 73% of which are passenger vehicles — are recovered, the NHTSA stated. More than half of stolen vehicles are taken from places where vehicles are commonly parked and left unattended: in front of homes, along streets and in garages.
Though theft rates have declined in recent years, the estimated value of vehicles stolen in the U.S. totals several billions of dollars annually. California residents are most frequently the victims of the crime, with 2,124 car thefts occurring in 2010, followed by Florida, which had 1,139; rounding out the top five vehicle-theft states are Texas (847), New York (753) and Illinois (597). Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina and Nevada each had between 294 and 529 vehicle thefts.
A bit of positive news, according to NHTSA, is that many of these thefts can be prevented, as nearly half are crimes of opportunity resulting from driver error such as leaving keys in the ignition or doors unlocked. Here are some tips from NHTSA to avoid being a target:
Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
Park in well-lit areas.
Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.
Never leave valuables in your vehicle.