PIKESVILLE — The Maryland State Police, along with the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, are reminding motorists to take simple steps to avoid having their vehicles stolen.

The warnings come as July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. In Maryland, a car is stolen every 40 minutes, while one is stolen every 45 seconds in the United States.

Overall, 50% of the vehicles stolen had the keys inside, while 60% were left unlocked. Also, more than 66% of vehicle thefts occur at night, and 95% of the vehicles stolen had no anti-theft devices.

Nationally, more than 773,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States in 2017.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only about 59% of all stolen motor vehicles are recovered. According to the FBI, the approximate cost of vehicles stolen in the United States in 2017 totaled $6 billion.

Here are steps you can take to prevent motor vehicle theft:

• 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 in your vehicle.

• 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.

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