A vehicle theft occurs every 44 seconds in the U.S.

A vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. July and August are the worst months for thefts.

According to NHTSA, more than 40 percent of motor vehicle thefts happen because of drivers’ mistakes. Only 52 percent of vehicles reported stolen are recovered.

To prevent vehicle thefts, NHTSA recommends taking the following steps:

• Always take keys, don’t leave them in or on the vehicle.

Always close and lock all windows and doors.

• Park in well-lit areas.

• Always keep the vehicle in the garage, if possible.

• Never, ever leave valuables in the vehicle, especially where they can be seen.

• Never, ever leave the area while the vehicle is running.

• Protect the vehicle with an antitheft/immobilizer device.

Sheriff Joe Lester doesn’t want anyone to become the next victim. If a vehicle is stolen, the owner should report it to law enforcement immediately.

Lester said vehicle owners should know the license plate, VIN number, make, model and color. Also, within 24 hours of discovering the vehicle theft, an owner should file a claim with the insurance company.

“If you find your car before the authorities do, you should contact the police and your insurance company immediately,” Lester said. “Help us stop your vehicle from being stolen by making sure your vehicle is always secured when left unattended.”

Any questions regarding this press release and/or information can be addressed to Meghan McCormick, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, community liaison/public information officer.

McCormick can be reached at (405) 701-8847.