WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — As it finally starts to feel like winter in Wichita, more Kansans are warming up their cars before heading to their destination. Many leave their vehicles unlocked during this time, leaving them vulnerable to theft.

In 2020, America saw the most vehicle thefts in more than a decade. That upward trend continued through 2021.

“There could not be a resolution that takes less time and effort, and yet the savings could be dramatic,” says Gary Tomes, spokesperson for AAA Insurance in Kansas. “More often than not, vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity. Lock your car, take your keys and take that opportunity away.”

According to the latest statistics provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB):

  • Overall, there were 880,595 vehicle thefts nationwide in 2020
  • Across Kansas, almost 9,500 people reported their vehicles stolen in 2020
  • Kansas saw a nearly 15% increase in stolen vehicles in 2020 as compared to 2019

The top 10 vehicles reported stolen in Kansas were:

  1. Ford pickup (full size)
  2. Chevrolet pickup (full size)
  3. Dodge pickup (full size)
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Honda Civic
  6. GMC pickup (full size)
  7. Toyota Camry
  8. Nissan Altima
  9. Ford Fusion
  10. Chevrolet Impala

“We are happy to help clients recover their losses, but we’d be even happier if they could help them to avoid the harrowing experience of having their vehicle stolen in the first place by simply removing the keys,” Tomes said.

According to AAA Insurance, the average claim for vehicles stolen in 2020 was nearly $7,500 per vehicle nationwide, which may or may not be covered by insurance.

“Only comprehensive insurance policies cover stolen cars,” Tomes said. “AAA encourages vehicle owners to review their policies with their advisers to make sure they are covered.”

Auto liability insurance is required nationwide, but coverage against theft is optional.  

AAA Insurance tips for protecting your car against theft:

  1. Never leave your vehicle running with the keys in it. Never.
  2. Never leave your keys in the vehicle – the convenient ‘keyless’ feature is not only convenient for the car owner, it is convenient for the thief who can steal your car with the touch of a button.
  3. Lock your car – even without the keys, thieves are more likely to steal a car left unlocked
  4. Park your vehicle in a garage or a well-lit area – at home, at the mall or on the road, always try to park in an area where suspicious activity would be noticeable.
  5. Keep valuables out of sight.
  6. Exercise these tips all year round.

If you need to warm your car up during the colder months or days if you’re in Kansas, utilize your spare key. Lock your vehicle with your spare key or key fob after you start your vehicle so that it can warm up while still being protected.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on the NICB website.