LA QUINTA, Calif. - Where are your car and truck keys right now?
If they're inside your vehicle, you could be a target.
The California Highway Patrol is warning residents after affluent areas see a recent increase of car and truck thefts.
Karen Gevers told us, "I'm always concerned about where my keys are and whether my car is safe and whether I'm safe. I even lock my car sometimes at gas stations so that no one can reach in and get my purse."
But, not everyone is as careful as Karen.
More than 52 percent of vehicle thefts in the state occur here in Southern California, and CHP officer Joe Zagorski tells us many them can be prevented. "Well when it comes to auto theft, just like any other type of theft it's an opportunity crime," Zagorski said. "So you're looking at anytime you leave stuff in your car or anything like that you're inviting someone who wants to take things to come in and break into the car and take them."
People often leave their keys in plain sight, either in their car, or an obvious area inside their home. Instead keep your keys in a more discreet location, so a home burglary doesn't turn into grand theft auto.
No matter where you are, keeping your car and valuables safe is all about awareness. Even when you stop to fill up, make sure you keep your keys with you and valuables out of plain sight. Gas stations are often a hot spot for thefts, especially when cars are left unattended. In addition, never leave a spare key hidden on your vehicle, and install an alarm if possible.
And, living in a gated community may make you feel more secure, but you still need to take the same precautions.
Officer Zagorski tells us, "We are starting to see a lot of thefts in several of our more affluent areas. The Indian Wells area, Rancho Mirage area. I think it's maybe because people are inside a gated community and there might be the deception it's a little safer inside a gated community. There's patrols that go around but the patrol isn't 24/7. It's not outside in front of "a" house, 24 hours a day, everyday of the week."
For more tips on how to keep your car or truck safe, check out the CHP's website for more resources at http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/vehicletheft.html.
Written by Rob Bradley, Reporter for KESQ-TV. You can contact Rob at RBradley@kesq.com.