July marks Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, with public safety leaders urging precautions and safety for vehicle owners. State grants support targeted local programs in many MD counties.
The Maryland State Police, along with the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, are reminding motorists of the importance of taking proper precautions to ensure vehicles do not get stolen.
The warnings come as July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. Consider the following:
- Every 47 minutes, a vehicle is stolen in Maryland, while in the United States, on average, a vehicle is stolen every 32 seconds.
- In most cases, vehicles are stolen for the resale or distribution of parts, transportation purposes, and for the commission of other crimes or exportation.
According to the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, 52 percent of vehicles are never recovered. In 2021, there were 11,143 vehicles stolen in Maryland while 937,936 vehicles were stolen in the United States, costing vehicle owners more than $8 billion.
Of the vehicles stolen in Maryland:
- 50% had the keys still inside
- 60% were left unlocked
- 95% of the vehicles stolen had no anti-theft device.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that vehicle thefts nationally have increased by more than 25 percent between 2019 and 2022. Much of this can be attributed to a surge in thefts of Hyundai and Kia cars, many of which lack an immobilizer. The manufacturers have since offered a free security software update.
The software upgrades were announced following a viral TikTok social media challenge that showed viewers how to hotwire the vehicles. About 3.8 million Hyundai and 4.5 million Kia vehicles are eligible for the update, according to the NHTSA. To see if your vehicle is eligible for the free updates, contact Hyundai at 1-800-633-5151 or Kia at 1-800-333-4542.
One of the primary goals of National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month is to highlight how vehicle thefts can be prevented with some basic steps. As a driver, you can take steps to keep your vehicle and belongings safe. Here are ways you can help prevent motor vehicle theft:
- Utilize an anti-theft device.
- 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.
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 a more than 71 percent reduction in vehicle thefts in Maryland between 1994 and 2021. Those efforts have saved Maryland motorists close to $240 million over that span.
For coverage of local anti-theft programs supported by the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, see the FY 2024 DLS Budget Analysis of the Department of State Police, which details the programs and grant amounts by county.
The US Department of transportation has federal-level information available on its Vehicle Theft Prevention website.