Video: How to Avoid Holiday Car Theft

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CARS.COM — It may be the holiday season, but auto thieves don’t take a holiday.

So while you’re stealing a kiss under the mistletoe, they may be stealing your car right from under your nose.

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Among major American holidays, those falling near the end of the year are crunch time for crooks.

In 2015, Christmas Eve ranked No. 4 with nearly 2,100 stolen cars reported. And New Year’s Eve ranked No. 2 with more than 2,200.

But there is at least some rest for the wicked: Compared with the daily average for the year, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were fairly quiet.

Thanksgiving also ranks relatively low, but Black Friday, while not a holiday, was a bargain-shopping bonanza for car thieves, who scored hot deals on 2,244 cars — outpacing the No. 1 car-theft holiday, Halloween.

After decades of steady decline, auto theft is on the rise as thieves find clever ways of cracking your car’s anti-theft technology.

But a little common sense still goes a long way:

  • Keep your car locked when unattended and never leave the key or fob inside as 57,000 people did last year, resulting in a 22-percent spike in theft-by-key.
  • Remove anything of value from view, as even an empty backpack looks appealing to a thief.
  • Stow packages in the trunk before driving to the next store in case you’re being watched.
  • And never leave you garage-door opener in the car or program your home address into your GPS system under “home” as it could lead thieves straight to your house.

Follow these tips and your biggest problems this holiday season will be bad fruitcake ... and worse sweaters.

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Senior Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt

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