Car thefts on the rise in Missouri
COLUMBIA- A new report shows car theft is on the rise across Missouri, with Columbia ranking seventh of all Missouri cities.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau said all major metro areas in Missouri saw increases in auto thefts in 2017.
"In the last few years, each year has seen an increase in auto theft rates in Columbia," said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Kevin Gamble.
The Columbia metro area had 376 thefts last year, more than one stolen car for each day.
Gamble said, sometimes, the simplest things can help prevent theft.
"Over the last five years, an average of around 35,000 cars are stolen with keys left in them. Something as simple as taking your keys with you can make a big difference," he said.
Gamble said visible signs like an alarm bill or a vehicle number etched into the car window can also help.
"These things can tell a potential thief that your car will be either harder to steal in the first place or harder to sell if they do steal it," he said.
Det. Tom O'Sullivan, of the Boone County Sheriff's Department, said car thefts are less prevalent in the county area compared to the city of Columbia.
Gamble said people should not make themselves an easy target for thieves by leaving keys or valuables in the car, or leaving a window cracked.
"If a locksmith only needs a small opening in your window to open your car door, so does a thief," he said.
O'Sullivan said newer technology has made it harder for thieves to steal cars.
The insurance crime bureau publishes a list of the most-stolen car models.
"Not always the most expensive cars are the one targeted by thieves," Gamble said. "Some of the most common cars like the Honda Accord and Civic, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and full size Ford and Chevy pickups are among the most often stolen.
Gamble said these cars are readily available and the parts highly sought after.
Kansas City saw the most car thefts in Missouri with 9,712, followed by St. Louis at number two with 8,130.
Two Missouri cities made a national list that ranks thefts by population size: St. Joseph at number five and Springfield at number 10.