by Geoff Fox
Maryland State Police are warning motorists during the holiday season and to take proper precautions to reduce their vehicles being stolen.
Police said this is especially true for owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which have been stolen at an increased rate in Maryland and nationwide, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Nationally, there have been a combined 59,991 Hyundai and Kia vehicles stolen this year through August 31. This compares to 58,683 for all of 2021.
The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council recommends if you have a 2016 to 2021 Hyundai or 2011 to 2021 Kia model that is started by a key, consider taking a few preventive measures.
Police suggest purchasing a steering wheel lock, which are relatively inexpensive and are an excellent visual deterrent to thieves.
Purchase a security kit recently released by both Hyundai and Kia. Owners of those brands can contact a local dealership for more information.
Practice standard vehicle theft safety measures such as parking in a secured access lot or personal garage if you have one.
According to the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, a car is stolen every 49 minutes in Maryland and every 39 seconds across the United States.
Overall, 10,683 vehicles were stolen in Maryland in 2020, down from 11,255 in 2019. Of those stolen vehicles, 50% had keys inside the vehicles and 60% of the vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
Maryland State Police also want to remind motorists that leaving any vehicle running while unattended not only increases the chances of it getting stolen, it is also illegal.
According to state law, police can issue a ticket with a $70 fine and one point against your driving record for such violations.
Also, if the vehicle slips out of gear and causes an accident, you could be issued a ticket with a $110 fine and three points against your driving record.
Police said simply taking a few steps greatly reduces the chance a motorist having their vehicles stolen.
Those steps include – close and lock all windows and doors when you park, park in
well-lit areas, do not leave the area while your vehicle is running, do not leave your keys or key fob in your vehicle, and always stow away your valuables.
The Maryland General Assembly created the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council in 1994 as a statewide planning and dedicated funding resource.
The council embraces a statewide strategy directed at public awareness, vehicle theft by juveniles, law enforcement and prosecution through a grant award process.
Efforts by the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council have led to a more than 72% reduction of vehicle thefts in Maryland over the past 28 years.