CHICAGO - New numbers released on Tuesday show a dramatic surge in car thefts across the country, so experts are sounding the alarm.
From the bustling big city of Chicago to quiet suburban streets, the area is seeing a sharp rise in car thefts.
"There has been an increase, especially in 2020," said Naperville Police Department Commander Michaus Williams.
Naperville police say thieves love Cherokees, Chargers and Challengers.
"Very hard to catch a car that that has 485+ horse power," Williams said.
While in Chicago, police say crooks are not picky.
"Most of the cars being taken are your Chevys, your Nissans, your Toyotas," said CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.
Deenihan say popular cars to drive become popular cars to steal because there simply are more of them.
"I think it's more of a crime of opportunity than seeking specific vehicles," he said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau just released a public service announcement and their analysis of auto theft stats from across the country. While the numbers had been decreasing for the last two years, now they are warning of a dramatic leap in car thefts.
"Our numbers will be in excess of 870,000 -- that would be a 10-percent increase from 2019," said David Glawe, CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
So, what is driving the increase in car thefts? Like so many negative things in our lives, experts blame, in part, the pandemic.
"The economic downturn, more vehicles parked in residential areas. There’s more out there to steal," Glawe said.
Let us break that down: more cars are parked as people work from home, more people are financially strapped -- maybe desperate for money -- and with all of the public wearing masks, it is hard to spot the bad people.
"It's easier for these offenders to blend in with the general public because everybody’s masked," Commander Williams said.
So how do you protect your car? Lock it! It may seem obvious, but 90-percent of stolen vehicles in Naperville are unlocked.
"We need your help. And the number one deterrent is to please lock up your vehicle," Williams said.
And no matter how cold it is, Chicago police say do not leave your car running.
"Even if they're going, you know, 100 feet into somebody's house, just turn your car off, take your key fob with you, and you can very easily warm your car back up," Deenihan said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says police on the street are key, but they need the public watching for suspicious activity.
"If you see something, say something," Glawe said.
Experts fear this theft trend will not hit the brakes anytime soon.