While the number of car thefts continues to decline nationwide, incidents involving stolen vehicles with the keys in them are on the rise.

NJ ranks eighth in the nation for car thefts with keys left inside. (BO NIELSEN, ThinkStock)

For the years 2012 through 2014, the total number of vehicles stolen with keys was 126, 603, according to the Chicago-based National Insurance Crime Bureau. New Jersey ranks eighth nationwide for stolen vehicles complete with keys.

"It doesn't make sense. It is the one thing that you can really do to impact the vehicle's not being stolen," said Roger Morris, is the chief communications for the NICB. "When you leave the keys in there or leave it unlocked, it is just an open invitation for an opportunistic theif to steal the car."

As for the Garden State's number eight ranking for cars with keys stolen, Morris said "New Jersey obviously has a lot of vehicles, and unfortunately they have a lot of car thieves."

Morris also said today's vehicles are very hard to steal. The technology in them is very good, unless you make it easy for an opportunistic thief.

Many newer models are equipped with push-button keyless starts. But some owners will leave the key in the tray to avoid having their keyless car "beep" at them if they remove the key to go somewhere for a short stop.

"The problem with that is, if the thief walks by your car and sees the key laying in there or any other valuables, they might just break the window, smash the window, grab the key, get in the car, and take off with it, or get your valuables," Morris said.

New Jersey is also eighth in the nation for the number of stolen cars that are not recovered. That may be due in part to the fact that our port access means some cars wind up overseas. Morris said California is number one in the nation for stolen cars with keys left inside, but New Jersey's number eight ranking is still disturbing.

"If you're on the scale, it's not a good sign," he said.

According to the bureau's statistics, Saturday is the number one day of the week for stolen cars.

"There are more people out. They're shopping. More people at restaurants, bars whatever, maybe a little less conscious of what they are doing with their keys and maybe making a quick stop at the gas station or something like that," Morris said. "It is so simple. All you have to do is, you turn off the key, you put it in park, you get the key out of there, the fob out of there, you lock it, you leave and that is the best thing that you can do."