WASHINGTON — When temperatures go up, so do the odds that somebody will steal your car. A report from AAA reveals more vehicles are stolen in July and August than any other time of year.
While car theft is on the rise in the city, the good news is that it’s down in the suburbs. Last year in Virginia, the number of vehicles reported stolen was at a 40-year-low.
“Recent grand scale declines in grand theft auto rates in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia can be attributed to increased public awareness, as well as programs deployed by law enforcement agencies and other agencies,” says John Townsend with AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Montgomery County saw 845 auto thefts in 2014, compared to 867 motor vehicles thefts in 2013, a 2.5% yearly decrease.
“Suspects love to target people during the summer time,” says Corporal Rebecca Innocenti with Montgomery County Police. “They’re at parks. They’re parking at trails, leaving their vehicles unlocked, their windows are down because it’s nice weather.”
Innocenti says there’s a reason older cars tend to be targeted.
“Vehicle manufactures are designing cars so that it is more difficult to steal these cars if you don’t have a key,” Innocenti says.
Older cars tend to have fewer security features, tempting criminals who tend to be more active in large cities.
Nearly 2,500 cars have been stolen in Baltimore this year, and in D.C. nearly 700 have been taken this summer alone.
Innocenti warns leaving the car running with the air conditioning on is another big invitation for thieves.
“Perhaps they have a pet in the car, they’re just running to the store,” Innocenti says. “But again you’re vehicle is unlocked, running, simple for the suspect to enter your vehicle and be gone. The simplest thing you can do is lock your vehicle door when you leave your vehicle.”