Bismarck has the dubious distinction of being the place in North Dakota where your vehicle is most likely to be stolen. That’s according to National Insurance Crime Bureau statistics.

Renée Cooper tells us what the deal is with car theft in the City of Bismarck.

Bismarck Police department Crime Prevention Officer Pat Renz told KX News, thefts could worsen this month as temperatures continue to dip, and people leave their cars unsupervised while warming them up.

Officer Renz says, “The largest percentage of car thefts in our area is that of opportunity.”

Meaning people are leaving their cars accessible to thieves. 

He explains, “Leaving them unlocked and unattended, which is technically against the law.”

Bismarck resident TJ Toepke adds, “If you put your vehicle in a position to get it stolen and an officer has to take care of it, you’re causing them extra work.”

I asked Bismarck residents at the DMV if they always remember to lock their vehicles.

Toepke says, “Absolutely, it’s guaranteed. It’s one of those things where I don’t want to make the mistake of keeping it unlocked, and regretting it later.”

Gerard Jarski assures, “Every time I leave the vehicle, I make sure it’s locked.”

University of Mary student Izabella Frederiksen says, “People do leave their cars unlocked for some reason. I lock my car, because that’s what I know, but I do notice a theme of unlocked cars.”

And Izabella can’t be the only one. Going on three years in a row, Bismarck has seen more car thefts than Fargo. 

Officer Renz adds, “Their population is a bit larger than ours, so it is a little concerning that we are running numbers as high as we are.”

From 2015 to 2016, car thefts doubled in Bismarck, reaching 309 stolen vehicles. 

Last year BPD reported 219 thefts, and to date in 2018, we’ve already seen 223.

Officer Renz says the winter months will only make the issue worse.

He also told me it’s common sense to protect your car. Lock it when you are going to walk away from it, for any length of time, no exceptions.

He also recommends getting yourself a remote starter, so you are able to comfortably warm your car up while it stays locked.

And if you have a car that doesn’t let you lock it while it’s running, take the time to sit in it for five minutes while it gets warm enough to drive.

A quick reminder from Officer Renz: Stealing someone’s car is a felony.