The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are intensifying their respective work this month.

NICB and NHTSA are raising awareness during National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month to promote education to encourage collaboration between law enforcement and vehicle owners.

Earlier this year, NICB released a vehicle theft trend analysis, which indicated that the U.S. is still experiencing a surge in vehicle theft rates that started at the onset of the pandemic.

According to NHTSA, estimates show that approximately one vehicle is stolen every 31 seconds in the United States, which costs vehicle owners more than $8 billion annually.

“Preventing vehicle theft shouldn’t just fall on law enforcement, because there are basic, common sense steps each of us can take to prevent this crime of opportunity,” NICB president and CEO David Glawe said in a news release. “It may sound simple, but a surprising number of vehicle thefts occur because owners forget to lock their doors or leave their keys inside.

“Taking a few seconds to ensure your vehicle is securely locked can significantly reduce its vulnerability to theft. Second, anti-theft devices like steering wheel locks, electronic immobilizers, and numerous aftermarket security systems can serve as effective deterrents against vehicle theft,” Glawe continued.

NICB helps coordinate efforts by manufacturers to identify vehicles that are frequently stolen to reduce vehicle theft, and partners with state and federal law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal networks and help recover stolen vehicles for member companies.

The organization also participates in federal, state and local task forces, fusion centers, and intelligence groups to deter vehicle theft and works strategically with lawmakers and regulators in all 50 states and U.S. territories to boost efforts by insurers and law enforcement to fight insurance fraud crime trends.

Despite those efforts, NICB and NHTSA indicated vehicle theft rates have risen steadily since 2019,

Last year, they said more than 1 million vehicles were reported stolen, which accounted for an increase of about 1% nationwide. Vehicle thefts increased from 1,008,756 in 2022 to 1,020,729 in 2023, with California accounting for the highest number of vehicle thefts nationwide in 2023 with 208,668 vehicles reported stolen.

“More than 1 million families a year have their vehicles stolen, and we all pay the price for vehicle theft through rising insurance premiums and law enforcement costs,” NHTSA deputy administrator Sophie Shulman said in the news release.

“There are simple steps we can all take to secure our vehicles, including never leaving a vehicle running unattended, and locking your car every time. National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month reminds us to act all year to prevent these crimes of opportunity and safeguard one of the most expensive purchases that families will ever make,” Shulman continued.

NICB and NHTSA recommend the following tips to help prevent vehicle thefts:

—Park in well-lit areas.

—Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.

—Hide valuables out of sight, such as in the glove box or trunk.

—Do not leave your keys in your vehicle.

—Do not leave the area while your vehicle is running.

If your vehicle is stolen, officials said you should call law enforcement and your insurer immediately because reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after it is stolen increases the chance of recovery.

According to NICB data, 34% of recovered stolen vehicles are recovered on the same day as the theft, and 45% are recovered within two days. Reporting the theft to law enforcement also provides a record to show to your insurer.

“By raising awareness, promoting education, fostering collaboration, and leveraging new anti-theft technology, we can work towards reducing vehicle theft rates and create safer communities for Americans across the country,” Glawe said.

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