DES PLAINES, Ill. (STMW) — Along with the usual warnings for motorists to not drink and drive and adjust driving to weather conditions, an insurance industry group is reminding car owners that New Year’s Day is the leading holiday for motor vehicle thefts.

According to an analysis by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, New Year’s Day was the holiday with the most reported vehicle thefts in 2009. Christmas repeated as the holiday with the fewest reported vehicle thefts, a release from the Des Plaines-based group said.

Interestingly, New Year’s Eve ranked in the lower half of the NICB list at No. 7 of the 11 holidays reviewed.

The group reminds auto owners that while many people take this time of year to enjoy the holidays and take time off from work, holidays are just another day at the shop for vehicle thieves. For the 11 holidays reviewed in 2009, a total of 22,991 vehicles were reported stolen, compared with a total of 24,676 in 2008.

Although vehicle thefts have been declining for six consecutive years—with preliminary 2010 FBI theft data pointing to a seventh —vehicle owners must maintain vigilance. There is always a black market for items obtained by theft, and vehicles remain popular targets.

The holidays ranked by number of thefts reported to the National Crime Information Center in 2009 were:

— New Year’s Day, 2,760
— Halloween, 2,325
— Independence Day, 2,207
— Memorial Day, 2,207
— President’s Day, 2,204
— Labor Day, 2,202
— New Year’s Eve, 2,189
— Valentine’s Day, 2,090
— Christmas Eve, 1,851
— Thanksgiving, 1,620
— Christmas Day, 1,336

The NICB reminds drivers to be alert during the holiday season, including parking in well-lit areas, keeping packages in the trunk or out of sight, and making sure your vehicle is locked while parked.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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