Auto thefts typically peak in the summer months, and Metro police say there were 23 cars stolen last week in Nashville, costing drivers thousands of dollars.
But in more than one-third of those cases, police say the keys had actually been left in the car or even given to the thief.
"We could drop 304 cases if people wouldn't leave their keys in the car," said Sgt. Billy Smith with the Metro Police Auto Theft Unit. "That's a lot."
It may sound simple enough, but those hundreds of cases are only since the beginning of the year.
"Some reasons: a lot of people leave their cars running. You know, they run into the market, and their air conditioner is on. And they don't want to come back to a 100-degree car," Smith said. "Also, school's out. We do make a lot of juvenile arrests in the months of June and July."
The website safemotorist.com lists Nashville as the top city for auto thefts in the state.
Convenience stores are the location where most cars are stolen, and the most-stolen vehicles tend to be GM and Ford trucks.
"A piece of glass separating thieves from your property ain't much. It takes about 30 seconds for a thief to break your window, take your stuff and be gone out of the parking lot," Smith said.
Police say to assume someone is always watching.
"If you have something in plain view, hide it before you get there," Smith said.
Also, don't make it obvious what you have and even clean the GPS rings from your windshield.
Most importantly lock all doors and even though it may be hot, roll those windows up.
"Leaving your window down just a little bit is enough to get a coat hanger in there to pop your lock," Smith said. "They are thieves because they are lazy, and they don't want to work for something."
Computer-chipped keys and visible VIN numbers are two ways to make it tough on thieves, and police say don't be afraid to get involved. If you hear an alarm, go ahead and call police.
If you would like to put VIN numbers on your windows to keep the thieves away, police will do that for a small donation. For more information, visit: http://www.nashvillecrimestoppers.com/.
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