ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Odessa has been named a hot spot for car theft by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The city ranks fourth in the nation for vehicle thefts per capita. The NICB "Stolen Car Hot Spot" report was released in June of this year, the numbers came from the most recent census. Police say the population has increased since then but car theft is still a major issue in Odessa.
Cpl. Steve LeSueur, PIO for the Odessa Police Department, said, "Stolen vehicles is definitely a concern here, we do average about 48 per month. The vast majority of those are stolen because people simply leave their keys inside the vehicle."
The Odessa Police Department says that atleast 90 percent of the vehicles are stolen because people leave their keys inside of the vehicle. Also, of the vehicles stolen in the city, 80 percent are recovered by OPD and 20 percent are never found.
Mark Podzemny, a local Odessa State Farm Agent, says that if your car is stolen, the first step is to call police, then call your insurance agent, even if the theft is discovered overnight. Police say it's best to have some sort of tracking device inside to better assist law enforcement in finding your stolen car.
"Sometimes a vehicle is taken and we never see it again because it's taken across the border or it's taken to another state so that it can either be chopped or completely gone," said Podzemny.
NewsWest 9 spoke with State Farm Insurance in Odessa and law enforcement to find out how to prevent vehicle theft from happening in the first place.
"Don't leave an extra key hidden on your vehicle. Never leave a vehicle running with the keys in it, that's an open invitation for a thief to steal your vehicle, never leave valuables in the vehicle in open sight," said Podzemny.
The person who steals your car can face felony charges but the owner of the vehicle can also get a ticket.
"You can be cited if you leave the keys inside the ignition while the vehicle's on and the reason we do this is because the more tickets we hand out the less stolen vehicles we have, we simply do this to educate the public," said LeSueur.