If you drive in California, you have more to worry about than freeway traffic. You also have to worry, after you’ve parked, about whether your car will still be there when you get back. That’s because California drivers have a greater risk of having their car stolen than residents of any other state, according to a top 10 list from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

map theft states

Florida lands in the second spot, followed by Texas, New York, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada. (Photo: NHTSA)

Of course, even if you don’t live in one of these states, that doesn’t mean you can breathe easy. We’re all at risk of having our car stolen, the NHTSA says.

In 2013, 700,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States — that’s one every 45 seconds, the NHTSA says. Nearly 45 percent of stolen cars are never recovered.

Related: 5 Things that Make Your Car Insurance Cost More (and 2 Surprising Things That Don’t)

Almost half of thefts happen as a result of what the NHTSA calls “driver error” — dumb moves like leaving the car unlocked.

Remember these basics:

  1. Take your key with you when you park. Don’t leave it the car.
  2. Close all windows (don’t leave them open even a crack) and lock all doors.
  3. Park in well-lit areas or in a garage, if possible.
  4. Don’t leave valuables in your car, but if you do, move them out of sight.
  5. Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.

Related: Don’t Be a Victim: Stay Safe in Parking Lots and Garages

Also, the NHTSA says, consider investing in an anti-theft system if your car doesn’t already have one. There are three kinds:

  • Audible or visible devices. Think horn alarms and steering wheel locks.
  • Immobilizing-type devices. Think kill switches [IF CORRECT]. According to the NHTSA, these “prevent thieves from bypassing your vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.”
  • Vehicle recovery systems. Think LoJack and others. These allow law enforcement to track or find a stolen vehicle — sometimes with the thief still in it.

If you’re really serious about not getting your car stolen, Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, has more tips for you:

  • If you can, park with the front of your car facing an obstacle.
  • Consider VIN etching. This chemically etches the Vehicle Identification Number or registration number on the windows of your vehicle. "Chop shops" thrive on vehicles that have easily removable VINs or no etching at all. New York City even provides vehicle etching for residents.
  • If you leave the vehicle for a longer period, take off the fuses, or disconnect the power supply (talk to your mechanic first).
  • Never leave your keys with parking lot or car wash employees.
  • Don’t leave your registration (or heaven forbid the title) in the car. Doing so makes it easier for a thief to sell the car on the black market.

Interpol notes you should take precautions even when your car is parked in your own garage.

The NHTSA has a list of the top 10 vehicles thieves target most. Click here to see if your car makes the list.

Related: Keyless Ignition? Don’t Forget to Turn Off Your Car

Vehicle theft prevention infographic(Photo: NHTSA)

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Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for Boston.com at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.