SIDNEY — Ohio is on a list that they probably don’t want to be on.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, during his weekly interview, talked about the rising vehicle thefts across the nation. Ohio is ranked No. 8 for the most stolen vehicles annually in the U.S.

Car thefts are up,” said Lenhart. “In the U.S., there were 775,000 cars stolen in 2019. That’s one car stolen every 45 seconds. It’s a $6 billion problem. Seventy-five percent of vehicles stolen are cars.”

The No. 1 state with the most stolen vehicles is California. The next stares are Texas, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri and then Ohio.

According to the National Auto theft Bureau, Ohio ranks as the fourth state nationwide where drivers leave keys in their vehicle.

“Since it’s been so hot, there have been a number of people who leave their vehicle running for the air conditioning,” said Lenhart.

Lenhart said all types of vehicle are stolen but some of the most popular ones are the Honda Civic, Ford 150 truck, Chevrolet trucks and Nissan’s.

“Cleveland is ranked seventh in the nation for stolen vehicles with 7,000 a year,” said Lenhart.

Other high ranking cities in Ohio include Dayton, No. 36; Akron, No. 45; Toledo, No 46; and Cincinnati, No. 48.

“I was impressed that Columbus was not in there,” said Lenhart. “The rankings are done by the percentage of people who live in a region” and the number of vehicles stolen a year.

And where do the stolen vehicles go?

“They go to chop shops where they are dismantled,” said Lenhart.

From the radio to air bags to tires, nothing is left once the vehicles have been stripped. The parts are then used to repair wrecked vehicles.

In 2018, said Lenhart, 26 vehicles were stolen in Sidney and another nine in Shelby County. In 2019, the numbers rose to 32 stolen vehicles in Sidney and 15 in Shelby County.

In addition to the stolen vehicles, items inside are also taken by the thieves. That could include purses and other items left on the seats or on the floor.

Lenhart said vehicle owners should always lock the doors, make sure the horn alarm is working and use anti-theft devices.

“If someone steals you’re vehicle, they have gotten important information about you — your address and your garage door opener, which can lead to more thefts.”

Lenhart recommends owners taking photos of the vehicle registration and auto insurance card and store the information on your phone. The original forms can then be kept at your home.

“Law enforcement should accept these (items stored on the phone) because what you’re required to show is proof or insurance and registration,” said Lenhart. “I know our guys would accept it.”

And what should you do if your vehicle is stolen?

“Contact law enforcement immediately,” said Lenhart. “Give them your license plate number, year, make, model and color of your vehicle and the VIN number.

“Then contact your insurance agent,” he said. “Then you’ll have the opportunity which allows you to have a rental car and the insurance picks up the tab.”

By Melanie Speicheer

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The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.