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July is Vehicle Theft Protection Month

This July, the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance (DCI) joins the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in observing Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. The Missouri DCI encourages drivers to protect their vehicles and review insurance coverage.

Vehicle theft is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States, costing vehicle owners more than $8 billion annually. According to NHTSA, more than one million vehicles were stolen in 2023, which accounts for a 25% increase in vehicle theft totals over the previous few years. Estimates show that approximately one vehicle is stolen every 31 seconds.

“Most Missourians depend on their personal vehicles for essential transportation needs, such as commuting, attending appointments and carrying out daily errands,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, Director of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. “Losing a vehicle to theft not only causes a substantial financial setback but also creates a deep sense of vulnerability and disruption. It’s always important to take precautionary measures to reduce your risk of vehicle theft – wherever you may be.” 

Vehicle theft can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Remember these tips to keep your vehicle safe: 

  • Park in well-lit areas. 

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. 

  • Hide your valuables.

  • Do not leave your keys in your vehicle.

  • Do not leave the area while your vehicle is running. 

  • Consider purchasing extra layers of protection for your vehicle if your manufacturer does not provide an anti-theft system. These can easily be bought in-store or online. 

  • If your vehicle has electronic transmission technology, consider turning this on or keeping the subscription, as this technology can assist law enforcement in revealing the location of the stolen vehicle.

If your vehicle has been stolen, contact local law enforcement to provide the license plate number, year, make, model and color of your vehicle and the VIN. Then contact your insurance carrier. If the vehicle was taken by someone in the same household, review your policy before filing a claim. Many insurance policies will not treat vehicles taken by someone with regular access to it as a theft, regardless of whether they have driven the vehicle before.

It is also a common misconception that in the event of theft, all items in the vehicle are covered by your auto policy. Most auto policies only cover items typically required for vehicle use, such as car seats, jumper cables, or spare tires. Personal belongings such as cellphones, laptops, purses and wallets would need to be filed as a separate claim under your homeowners or renter’s policy, which may have limited coverage for personal property away from home. 

Some policies have a waiting period before payout for a theft claim, in case the vehicle is recovered. If mechanical issues occur after a vehicle is stolen and recovered, they will generally need to be diagnosed before an insurance carrier reviews them for consideration as part of a theft loss. If inoperable or awaiting repairs, the policyholder should ensure their vehicle is moved to a free storage location to avoid incurring extra out-of-pocket expenses.

For any insurance questions, Missouri consumers can call DCI’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390, or visit For more information on motor vehicle theft prevention, visit

DCI is charged with protecting Missouri consumers through oversight of the insurance industry, banks, credit unions, utilities and various professional licensees operating in the state. For more information about the department, please visit our website at

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