TOWSON, Md. - Car thefts dropped last year to their lowest number since 1975, though they continued to rise in Baltimore city and seven counties, AAA Mid-Atlantic said this week.
AAA Insurance, which tracks the data, said 13,429 vehicles were stolen across Maryland last year, representing a 7.3 percent decrease over the previous year. This mirrors a national trend, the agency said.
Figures were compiled by the Maryland State Police and the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention In Maryland.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Averella-Cooper said the statistics are “great news,” but cautioned drivers against letting their guard down.
"Drivers must be vigilant about safeguarding their vehicles and personal property against theft," Averella-Cooper said.
Baltimore County, which was among the 16 counties that experienced declines in auto thefts, saw a drop in stolen vehicles from 1,572 in 2012 to 1,463 in 2013, a decrease of 6.8 percent.
In Howard County, auto thefts dropped 18.8 percent. Thefts dropped 23.7 percent in Anne Arundel County.
Car thefts in Prince George's County dipped to the lowest number since such records were kept, but the county still leads the state in auto thefts. In 2013, 4,293 vehicles were stolen in Prince George's County compared to 5,092 in 2012, a decrease of 15.6 percent.
Baltimore city and Calvert, Charles, Kent, St. Mary's, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties saw an increase in car thefts from 2012 to 2013.
Baltimore had a nearly 12 percent increase in the number of auto thefts in 2013 from the year before.
Summer is when the auto theft rate normally peaks across Maryland and the nation.
AAA offers the following tips on how to prevent car theft:
Get your VIN etched in each piece of glass on your car.
Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed.
Never leave belongings in the open where people can see them.
Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave it running when you’re not in it.
Keep your vehicle in secure, well-lit areas.
Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices.
Remove spare keys from your vehicle.