Although data is showing that auto theft is on the decline nationwide, it is still a major problem.

We've compiled the following list of ways to help keep your vehicle from being stolen:

1. Never leave your keys in the car. Sounds obvious, but about 20 percent of all stolen vehicles had the keys inside.

2. Lock the car. Abot half of stolen vehicles were unlocked.

3. The "hide-a-key" is often an invite to steal your car. Theifs can usually find a "hidden" key in a few seconds.

4. If you have to park somewhere at night, make sure it is a well-lighted area or an attended lot. And if you park in a lot, make sure you leave only the ignition key. You do not want to give anyone access to important items in your glove compartment or trunk.

5. Many people leave their windows open when parked, especially when it is hot. But this gives theives easier access to your car.

6. Do not leave important items inside the car, within the view of anyone passing by.

7. When you park on the street, turn the wheels toward the curb. This makes it more difficult to tow your vehicle.

8. Apply your emergency brake when parking. This also makes the vehicle more difficult to tow away.

9. If you have a garage, use it. It does not make sense to keep you car in an open area at night when you can protect it by parking inside the garage.

10. Carry your vehicle registration and insurance card in your wallet or purse. Do not leave it in the car. Thieves can not only steal your car, but then they will have important personal information.

11. Look into an anti-theft device that includes a kill switch that freeezes the car without a pass key or code.

12. Use a sturdy, visible steering wheel lock. This is a deterrent for criminals.

13. When purchasing a vehicle from a private party, pay close attention to the title and registration. They should match the name and address of the seller. You do not want to buy a stolen vehicle.

14. Also, when buying from a private seller, make sure the VIN plate is clear and securely fastened to the car. Make sure the VIN plate matches the ID sticker that is usually located in the glove compartment.

15. There are special locking screws that can be used on the license plate. This makes it very difficult for a thief to remove the plate.

If you are the victim of a car theft, make sure your report it immediately to the police and to your insurance agent or company.