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The reported number of incidents where vehicles have been stolen using their own keys has increased over recent years.

With increased factory security features preventing many thefts, a large number occur simply because homeowners don't take enough security precautions or care about where they keep their car keys.

Car key theft is a growing problem because automobile security is so good on new vehicles that thieves must have the keys to be able to steal them, and last year more than 8,000 motor vehicles were stolen as a direct result of thieves breaking into people's houses and stealing the owner's car keys.

Car keys left on view, close to doors and windows, are the easiest target for thieves and most car keys are stolen in sneak-in burglaries, where entry has been gained through unlocked doors and windows.

Having your home burglarized is a traumatic experience, but if the thief steals your car keys, and uses your car to drive away with your property, it is even more distressing.

But, there are steps that homeowners can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this type of crime:

* Lock your door as soon as you get into the house

* Always make sure windows are securely locked

* Don't leave your car unlocked just because it is on your driveway

* Keep you car keys in a drawer, or on a shelf, out of sight

* Never leave your car keys in view of windows or doorways

* Keep your car keys away from your mailslot.

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