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The busiest day of the week for car thieves

By Barbara Marquand on August 18th, 2013

Sunday is not a day of rest for car thieves, nor is the summer a season for kicking back.

A Progressive Insurance analysis of 2012 claims data shows that cars are most likely to be stolen on the weekends, with more thefts reported on Sundays than any other day of the week, and during the summer.

Nine out of the 10 days for the most car thefts occurred in the summer months last year, Progressive says. The busiest day of all: July 15.

The other busiest car theft dates in order of the number of stolen car claims were July 1, April 29, Sept. 4, July 23, Aug. 26, Sept. 15, July 7, Sept. 23 and Aug. 8.

July had the most thefts of any month, followed by August and then June. Progressive noted a 15 percent increase in car thefts during July and August, compared to the rest of the year.

The insurer also examined how likely stolen cars were to be recovered. On a nationwide basis, you have an average 46 percent shot at getting your car back, but that chance varies widely by state.

You have the best chance of getting your car back in Washington and the worst chance in Michigan. The states with the highest recovery rates were all in the West. The top five, according to Progressive:

  • Washington, 71 percent
  • Utah, 63 percent
  • South Dakota, 61 percent
  • Nevada, 61 percent
  • California, 60 percent

The states with the worst car theft recovery rates:

  • Michigan, 19 percent
  • Pennsylvania, 26 percent
  • Arkansas, 28 percent
  • Alabama, 28 percent
  • Mississippi, 29 percent

Simple precautions can prevent car theft.

"Thieves are lazy, so if you do anything to make their job more difficult, they'll move on to the next car," Todd Golling, a Progressive claims trainer and former Virginia state trooper, said in a press statement. "Even if you don't have a car alarm, if you have a sticker that says you do, your car becomes a less likely target."

Golling said lock your car, even if you leave it for a minute, and be especially mindful at places where your car will be parked for a long time, such as church, sporting and concert venues and hotels. Remove your belongings from the car, and cover purchases with a blanket on shopping trips. Thieves are less likely to break in if they can't see what there is to steal, Golling said.

Don't keep spare keys or items with your address in the car, and consider installing locking gas caps, wheel-locking nuts and engine immobilizers to make stealing the car as hard as possible.

See average annual insurance rates for more than 2,000 vehicles

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