Just because the weather’s gone cold doesn’t mean auto thefts have.

The majority of auto thefts happen during the summer months. However, thieves do not take a break in the winter. Protect your vehicle this winter by taking precautions that will make your vehicle less of a target. Here are some simple ways to #ProtectYourRide this season.

Don’t leave your vehicle idling.

While it is tempting to warm up your vehicle in your driveway on cold mornings, this behavior can lead to getting your vehicle stolen. Just because your vehicle is parked in your driveway doesn’t guarantee its safety. Last year, the top location for motor vehicle theft was the victim’s residence, for a total of 4,454 reported thefts. Leaving your vehicle running and unattended with the keys in the ignition (aka a “puffer vehicle”) is an easy target for thieves.

Take your keys.

Take your keys with you when you leave. Statistics from The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) states that nearly 1 in 4 vehicles stolen in Virginia have the keys inside. Make sure to turn your vehicle off and remove your keys at all times, even if it’s just a quick trip back inside the house. An alternative that allows you to warm up your vehicle while keeping thieves out is a remote start. You will not be able to remote start your vehicle if it is unlocked, therefore, making it less of an easy target for thieves. Plus, the key must be in the vehicle in order to put it in drive. And if a thief was to break a window, it would set off the alarm.

Park in Well-Lit Areas.

Park your vehicle in a safe, well-lit area that gets plenty of foot traffic. In 2017, 22 percent of all auto thefts in Virginia took place in a parking lot. During the dark days of winter it is especially important to park in well-lit areas. Even at familiar locations, such as work, the grocery store or daycare, be sure to park somewhere safe to avoid becoming a target for opportunistic thieves.

Be Aware.

Be alert. As you approach your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings. Remember where your vehicle is parked and walk directly to it. Avoid talking or texting on cell phones, digging for keys or juggling multiple packages as it can be a distraction and can make you an easy target to criminals. Common sense is your first defense against auto theft.