July is the hottest month for car theft, and Sunday is the busiest day of the week for car thieves, according to an analysis by Progressive Insurance.
The company examined 2012 car insurance claims data and found a 15 percent increase in car thefts in July and August compared to the rest of the year. The highest percentage of theft claims are made in July, followed by August and June. The day with the highest number of claims in 2012 was July 15. Cars were most likely to be stolen on a weekend, with Sunday having the highest number of theft claims, followed by Saturday.
Stolen cars were recovered an average of 46 percent of the time, but the recovery rate varied widely by state. The states with the highest recovery rates were:
- Washington, 71 percent.
- Utah, 63 percent.
- South Dakota, 61 percent.
- Nevada, 61 percent.
- California, 60 percent.
The states with the lowest stolen-car recovery rates were:
- Michigan, 19 percent.
- Pennsylvania, 26 percent.
- Arkansas, 28 percent.
- Alabama, 28 percent.
- Mississippi, 29 percent.
A few simple steps can prevent theft in many cases.
"Thieves are lazy, so if you do anything to make their job more difficult, they'll move on to the next car," Todd Golling, a Progressive claims trainer and former Virginia state trooper, said in a press statement. "Even if you don't have a car alarm, if you have a sticker that says you do, your car becomes a less likely target."
Golling said cars that are parked for a long time at locations such as churches, sports venues, hotels and concert halls, are targets for car thieves. He advises consumers to remove belongings from their cars and to lock their vehicles -- even if they're leaving them unattended for only a minute. He also suggests keeping a blanket in the car to cover purchases on shopping trips. Thieves are less likely to risk breaking into a car if they don't know what they're getting, Golling said.