July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. According to the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, vehicle theft annually exceeds $4 billion and July is the month in which the highest number of cars are stolen. In Maryland, a vehicle is stolen every 39 minutes and nationwide, a vehicle is stolen every 45 seconds.
In 2014, 753 vehicles were stolen in Montgomery County and in approximately 30% of these cases, a key was left in the vehicle. In many of these vehicle theft cases, the thieves originally planned to only steal property such as cash, credit cards, and electronics, but stole the vehicle when they found the key in the vehicle.
Theft from autos and vehicle theft can lead to the commission of additional crime by the suspect(s). If a suspect is able to obtain personal information from items in your vehicle, you are susceptible to becoming a victim of identity theft. Also, thieves have used stolen vehicles in the commission of other crimes.
Vehicle manufacturers have worked to make vehicle theft more difficult to commit by making it nearly impossible to take a vehicle without a key. The Montgomery County Police Department and the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council ask you to lower your risk of becoming a victim of auto theft and theft from vehicle by adhering to the following measures:
•Keep your vehicle keys with you at all times; not in or on your vehicle. Never leave a spare key or valet key in your vehicle. Valet keys can sometimes be used to start the vehicle.
•Close and lock vehicle windows and doors when parked.
•Don’t leave a vehicle running if unattended.
•Park in well-lit and well-traveled areas.
•Park in a garage if possible and make sure that the garage is secured.
•Use a car alarm and/or anti-theft device.
•Use a vehicle locator device.
If you have questions relating to vehicle theft in Montgomery County, please call the Montgomery County Department of Police Centralized Auto Theft Section at 240-773-6370.
For more information about vehicle theft prevention, visit safercar.gov