It’s Easy to Avoid the Way More and More Cars Are Being Stolen

Hint: it involves your car's key fob

Engine Start And Stop Button
Many newer vehicles use a presence detection key fob in place of a traditional ignition key.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A new article at Marker offers an alarming statistic for auto owners: in the second half of 2020, car thefts increased by 13%. Could this be related to the way a number of people bought cars in response to the pandemic? Might it have some connection with the way thieves are hacking the locks of luxury cars? Or is there something even more sinister at the heart of this?

Well, there’s certainly something distinctive about the methods by which a growing number of car thieves are zeroing in on their quarry. Neither diabolical cleverness nor technological expertise plays a role here, however. Instead, car thieves are capitalizing on a tried and true occurrence: car owners getting careless.

And by “careless,” we mean “drivers leaving their key fobs inside their cars where they can be seen from the outside.”

Yes, it’s still considered theft if someone drives off in a car where the keys have been left in the ignition, metaphorically speaking. It does not reflect terribly well on the driver who left them there, however. Among the numbers cited in the Marker article were the number of cars stolen in New York City in 2020 where the engine was still running. That number? 3,450. This is to say nothing of the art dealer whose Tesla — containing a 310-year-old violin — was stolen in part because the car’s key fob had been left in the car, albeit accidentally.

So, please — keep an eye on your car’s key fob. Turns out it’s a surprisingly effective deterrent against having your car stolen.

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