PIKESVILLE, MD—The number of vehicle thefts in Maryland has declined for the fourth straight year, authorities announced this week. However, work continues by the Maryland State Police, allied law enforcement agencies, and the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council to reduce those rates even further in upcoming years.
July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. In Maryland, a car is stolen every 49 minutes, while one is stolen every 39 seconds in the U.S. In most cases, vehicles are stolen either for the resale or distribution of parts, for transportation purposes, for the commission of other crimes, or for exportation.
One of the primary goals of National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month is to highlight how preventable most thefts are if people follow some basic steps. Overall, 50 percent of the vehicles stolen had the keys/key fobs left inside the vehicle while 60 percent of the vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
In addition, more than 66 percent of vehicle thefts occur at night and 95 percent of the vehicles stolen had no anti-theft devices. National surveys reveal that 33 percent of drivers left their vehicle while it was running.
According to the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, there were 10,683 vehicles stolen in Maryland in 2020, compared to 13,847 in 2016 and 38,194 in 1994, the year the Council was created. This represents a 68 percent decrease in stolen vehicles over that 26-year span. However, at the same time, there has been an increase in carjackings in recent years. Maryland recorded 1,015 carjackings in 2020, compared to 807 in 2019 and 731 in 2018.
To help drivers keep their vehicles safe, the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council is continuing its annual awareness campaign during July.
Officials provided the following statistics to consider:
- 810,400 cars were stolen in the U.S. in 2020.
- Only 56.1% of all stolen motor vehicles were recovered.
- 52% of stolen vehicles are not recovered
- Thieves can strip a vehicle of parts in 30 minutes or less.
- Approximately 25 to 40 percent of the cost of comprehensive auto insurance is due to auto theft.
As a driver, authorities say you can take steps to keep your vehicle and belongings safe. Here are ways you can help prevent motor vehicle theft:
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
- Put away your valuables.
- Do not leave your keys in your vehicle.
- Do not leave the area while your vehicle is running.
Also, if you encounter a carjacker, surrender the vehicle without a fight.
The Maryland General Assembly created the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council in 1994 as a statewide planning and dedicated funding resource. The Council embraces a statewide strategy directed at public awareness, vehicle theft by juveniles, law enforcement and prosecution through a grant award process. Efforts by the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council have led to about a 70 percent reduction of vehicle thefts in Maryland over the past 26 years. Those efforts have saved Maryland motorists more than $239M over that span.
Additional tips can be found in the graphic below.