Car theft Lotto: Today is your unlucky day

By Mark Vallet

Carinsurance.com

Car theftCar thieves can't wait for summertime, either.

New statistics released by Progressive Insurance show nine of the 10 worst days for car thefts come during the summer months. If you want to hang on to your car, keep it in the garage on July 15th, which had the highest number of stolen car claims.

Progressive's claims data from 2012 revealed car thefts spiked 15 percent in the dog days of summer. July had the highest percentage of theft claims, with August coming in second and June rounding out the top three.

Today -- Aug. 12 -- made the top 10 list.

Car thieves also love working weekends, Progressives data found that cars were most likely to be stolen on Sunday, with Saturday right behind.

Progressive also looked at recovery rates. Nationwide, once your car is gone, you have a 46 percent chance of getting it back, Progressive says. But recoveries vary dramatically by state.

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If you are lucky enough to live in Washington, there is a good chance your car will be recovered; 71 percent of cars stolen there are recovered. On the other end of the spectrum is Michigan, where you have just a 19 percent chance of ever seeing your ride again.

The highest recovery rates were:

  • Washington (71%)
  • Utah (63%)
  • South Dakota (61%)
  • Nevada (61%)
  • California (60%)

The worst recovery rates were:

  • Michigan (19%)
  • Pennsylvania (26%)
  • Arkansas (28%)
  • Alabama (28%)
  • Mississippi (29%)

Don't make car theft easy

Car thieves tend to be lazy and not too picky, says Todd Golling, a former Virginia state trooper who is now a theft claims trainer for Progressive. His advice: Make your car as inconvenient as possible.

"In my experience, thieves are opportunistic and go for whichever car is the easiest target. If they see things like alarm stickers, gas cap locks or steering wheel locks, they're more likely to move on to the next car, regardless of make or model," says Golling.

Golling recommends being extra careful if your car is going to be parked anyplace for a long time. Sports venues, concerts and churches tend to be prime targets for thieves, he says. That goes double for the items inside your vehicle. An iPod left in plain sight is just asking to be stolen.

Additional precautions from Golling:

  • Lock your car every time.
  • Remove all items from your car at a hotel. Thieves look for out-of-state plates.
  • When shopping, cover your purchases with a blanket.
  • Never keep spare keys to your car or house in your car.
  • Use locking gas caps and engine immobilizers to make a thief's job difficult.

Having your car stolen may not be as bad on your car insurance rates as you think. According to Penny Gusner, consumer analyst with Carinsurance.com, comprehensive claims often have no affect on your rates because they are usually not your fault.

But if you have an older car -- especially the 1990s-eras Hondas and Toyotas that are special favorites -- you may long ago have dropped comprehensive and collision. In that case, you can only wait and hope that police recover the car. (For more on when to consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverages, click here.)


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