PHOENIX, AZ., March 2,2010--:  The 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty has new available off-road features, including electronic locking rear differential, new Hill Descent Control and all-new transfer case skid plate.  Photo by: Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor /Co. (3/8/2010)

Progressive Insurance recently examined its 2012 insurance data and found that vehicle-theft recovery rates are related to where car owners live, and, indeed, summer is the season when vehicles are stolen most.

The US average rate for car theft recovery is 46 percent, but the state-by-state rates of recoveries vary greatly. Washington, the top state for stolen-vehicle recoveries, found 71 percent of them. It was followed by Utah (63 percent), South Dakota (61 percent), Nevada (61 percent) and California (60 percent). Michigan, the bottom-performing state for recoveries, found just 19 percent of stolen vehicles, and was preceded by Pennsylvania (26 percent), Arkansas (28 percent), Alabama (28 percent) and Mississippi (29 percent).

Progressive claims trainer Todd Golling, a former Virginia State Trooper, says there are a number of ways that car owners can help prevent their cars from being stolen, including removing valuable items from the car when it's parked, locking it every time it's left somewhere and keeping a blanket to cover items when out shopping. All of that, or avoid owning a four-wheel-drive crew cab Ford F-250 Super Duty, which experiences the highest rate of insurance theft claims of any vehicle in the US, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.

For more car theft data and information on how to lower the chances that your vehicle will be stolen, scroll down to read the press release.
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Progressive® Insurance releases car theft stats, tips for keeping cars safe

Data includes a spike in summer theft claims, the highest days for theft and the likelihood a car will be recovered

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio - August 7, 2013 - Do car thefts go up in the summer? Does where you live increase the likelihood your car will be found if it's stolen? Progressive Insurance examined its 2012 Personal Lines data to answer those questions and more. The car insurance company found:

- A 15% increase in car thefts during the months of July and August, versus the rest of the year
- July was the month with the highest percentage of theft claims, followed by August and June
- Nine out of 10 of the highest car theft dates occurred between July and September
-Dates, in order of the number of stolen car claims, are 7/15 (highest day for claims in 2012), 7/1, 4/29, 9/4, 7/23, 8/26, 9/15, 7/7, 9/23 and 8/12
- Cars were most likely to be stolen on a weekend, with the highest day for stolen car claims being Sunday, followed by Saturday

The data also showed how likely cars were to be recovered. While on average a car was recovered roughly 46% of the time, the state-by-state recovery rate varied greatly. In Washington, the highest state for recovery, cars were recovered 71% of the time. In Michigan, the lowest state for recovery, cars were recovered just 19% of the time.

- The top five highest states for vehicle recovery in 2012 were:
- Washington (71%)
- Utah (63%)
- South Dakota (61%)
- Nevada (61%)
- California (60%)
- The lowest five states for vehicle recovery in 2012 were:
- Michigan (19%)
- Pennsylvania (26%)
- Arkansas (28%)
- Alabama (28%)
- Mississippi (29%)

So how do you prevent your car from being stolen? Progressive Claims Trainer and former Virginia State Trooper Todd Golling is an expert on break-ins, and has advice on how to deter thieves from targeting your car for theft, or a break-in.

"Thieves are lazy, so if you do anything to make their job more difficult, they'll move on to the next car," said Golling. "Even if you don't have a car alarm, if you have a sticker that says you do, your car becomes a less likely target."

Golling also offers this advice about where to be extra careful with your car.

"Anywhere that you'll be parked for a long time - churches, sports venues, concerts, etc. - are targets for car thieves," continued Golling. "That applies to the theft of the car itself and items in the car. Remove everything from your car when you're at those kinds of places."

Below are some best practices from Todd Golling to make your car less of a target.

1. Rule #1: If you don't want it stolen, don't leave it in your car. Simple as that. A visible iPod or GPS is a temptation for "smash and grab."
2. Rule #1 is particularly important when traveling. Remove everything from your car at a hotel. Thieves patrol hotel parking lots and look for things like out of state plates, or suction-cup marks on the windshield to indicate a GPS device might be in the car.
3. It sounds simple, but make sure you lock your car. Even if you're only leaving it unattended for a minute.
4. If you go on a shopping trip, keep a blanket in your car to cover the items you buy. Thieves are less likely to take the risk of breaking into your car if they don't know what they're getting.
5. Don't keep spare keys to your car or house anywhere in your car.
6. Don't leave anything with your address on it i.e. mail, registration, insurance card.
7. Locking gas caps, wheel-locking nuts, and engine immobilizers are a great way to tell the thief "It's not going to be easy!"