WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 700,000 drivers have their car stolen each year.
“The best way to avoid things from happening not just to you but to other people is to take a community-oriented approach to it,” said driver Trindin Wright.
Winchester police are enforcing their Combat the Cat campaign to remind residents to keep their cars locked at all times. Police say this is in response to people leaving purses, cell phones and sometimes firearms visible in their vehicle.
“Just to bring the community awareness by putting these signs out so that they can remember that it’s simple as just locking a door can prevent you from being a victim,” said Winchester Police Sgt. Chaz Niang.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports in 2017 the cost of cars stolen nationwide came in at $6 billion. The DOJ also says drivers are most at risk during the summer.
“I definitely understand it being as though our windows are down and it leaves you more vulnerable,” said Wright.
“The number one thing we can suggest is rolling the windows up, keeping your vehicle locked and making sure that any valuables are not visible within that vehicle,” said Niang.
According to the NHTSA, one car is stolen in the U.S. every 40 seconds and half of those thefts are caused by driver error.
“Luckily for me, I have a remote start in my car, which means I’m able to keep my windows up, start my car before I get in there and then hopefully the air conditioner is already on so I wouldn’t need to leave my windows down,” said Wright.
The NHTSA reports the most common type of car stolen is Honda and the most cars are stolen in California.