Study finds the best and worst states for stolen car recoveries

August 16, 2013 12:00 AM

Drivers often want to do everything in their power to protect their vehicles. Whether it's investing in regular scheduled maintenance to extend the life of an automobile or taking steps to get immediate car repair for any problems that arise, motorists are constantly on the lookout for ways to make sure their rides are safe and secure. 

However, even the most protective of drivers can encounter problems when it comes to car thieves. A recent study from Progressive Insurance looked at the secrets behind car thefts, including which states were the best and worst for recovering stolen vehicles.

Stolen cars by state
The study found that July and August were the most common months for reports of car thefts. There was a 15 percent increase in stolen vehicles during these months, with July earning the top spot as the month with the most crimes. Regardless of the time of year, weekends were the most popular time for thefts. Sunday was the single most common day, followed by Saturday, the report found. 

All is not lost once a car is stolen. About 46 percent of all vehicles are recovered after being reported stolen, but the success rate varied depending on the state. Washington led the pack with a 71 percent recovery rate, followed by Utah at 63 percent, South Dakota and Nevada tied at 61 percent, and California at 60 percent. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Michigan, which only recovers 19 percent of stolen cars. Pennsylvania was the next-worst with 26 percent, and Arkansas and Alabama each found 28 percent. 

Preventative measures to avoid car theft
No matter what state drivers are in, they can take steps to avoid car theft before it happens. Don't leave any valuables in the vehicle that could tempt a thief to do a smash-and-grab job, and be sure to always roll up windows and lock doors when parking.

"Thieves are lazy, so if you do anything to make their job more difficult, they'll move on to the next car," said former Virginia State Trooper Todd Golling. "Even if you don't have a car alarm, if you have a sticker that says you do, your car becomes a less likely target."

There may be an even simpler solution for avoiding car theft. According to Slate magazine, more than 83 percent of vehicles in one Florida city were stolen because drivers left keys in the ignition. Taking the time to turn off an automobile and bring your keys with you could save a lot of aggravation later on.

Back to news