The District of Columbia was once a hotbed for car theft, but new figures show a sharp decline in stolen vehicles. Meanwhile, auto thefts are trending upward in Virginia.
Data shared by AAA shows that there were 2,425 cars stolen in the District in 2017, down from 2,700 the year prior. There was a 66.8 percent drop in auto thefts in the District between 2007 and 2017. This year, the rate of thefts is basically flat, rising from 1,332 to 1,346 (as of July 24).
While auto thefts have been on the decline throughout the entire region, thefts did rise in 2017 in Virginia. The Commonwealth saw 10,223 cars stolen last year, up from 9,719 in 2016.
Auto theft figures for Maryland were not available. But, AAA said auto thefts between 2013 and 2016 rose 5.4 percent, despite dropping 54.6 percent between 2007 and 2016. (There was a whopping 30,522 vehicle thefts in 2006).
Nationally, auto thefts have been on a steady decline since peaking in 1991. But there have been some recent upticks. For instance, thefts rose 4.1 percent nationally between June and July last year, and thefts in the U.S. rose 3.8 percent in 2015 and 7.4 percent in 2016.
AAA offers the following tips to avoid having your car stolen:
- Never leave belongings out in the open in your car as they could tempt thieves.
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not in it.
- Keep your vehicle in secure, well-lit areas. When possible, park in a locked garage. Also, consider installing a motion-activated floodlight that illuminates the place where your car is parked.
- Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
- Remove spare keys from your vehicle. Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle. Remove keys from under floor mats, etc.