The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that car thefts in 2009 were at their lowest level in 20 years. Last year, a total of 794,616 vehicles were stolen from their owners – a 17 percent drop compared to 2008. Without a doubt, those numbers are good news for car owners across the country, but the FBI report isn't all roses and sunshine. The government agency also says that while theft numbers are down, so is the number of vehicles recovered after they're stolen.

Last year, authorities were able to return just 42 percent of all stolen vehicles. That number marks a 25 percent decline compared to 2008. The reason? Law enforcement says that thieves are getting smarter all the time, and that most acts of vehicle theft are perpetrated by professionals who are skilled at their trade. Experts recommend following the usual tricks to make sure you're not a victim, including locking your vehicle, keeping valuables out of sight and parking it well-lit areas to make sure your vehicle doesn't wind up on the short list of those stolen in 2010.

[Source: Consumer Reports | Image: Peter Dazeley/Getty]