PIKESVILLE, MD – As the weather begins to get colder, and as the holiday season approaches, it is more important than ever that motorists take proper precautions to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of vehicle theft.
This warning from the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council comes at a time when vehicle thefts are on the rise nationwide. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, nearly 500,000 vehicles were reported stolen nationwide in the first half of 2023, which represents an increase of more than 2 percent compared to the same period in 2022.
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 and 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 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To see if your vehicle is eligible for the free updates, contact Hyundai online at https://www.hyundaiantitheft.com/ or call 1-800-633-5151. For Kia, go to https://ksupport.kiausa.com/consumeraffairs/swld online or call 1-800-333-4542.
The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council is committed to work to address this recent spike in vehicle thefts. For Fiscal Year 2024, the Council awarded more than $3 million in grants to law enforcement agencies, state’s attorney offices and other groups across the state to combat vehicle theft, carjackings and related crimes. The Council also works year-round on various public awareness campaigns to educate the public on how they can help reduce vehicle thefts statewide.
Here are simple steps everyone can take to 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.