What are car thieves looking for? We checked the records in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Imagine running inside a gas station or your house for just for a split second, and you come back out to find your car missing.

More than 3,000 vehicles have already been stolen in the city this year, and WREG looked at which cars thieves are targeting the most.

A quick stop to get gas at a Grizzy Mart on Shelby Drive and Horn Lake turned into a nightmare for Nakeitha Becton recently.

"I went to go pay for my gas and I saw a guy walk around my car," she said. In seconds, he was inside her silver Honda Civic and gone.

"My heart was racing and I didn't know what just happened, because it happened so fast."

Becton admits she let her guard down and left the keys in the ignition.

"It was in my own neighborhood and I felt comfortable nobody wouldn't try something like that."

Becton got her car back a week later but many aren't so lucky.

From January to September of this year, there have been 3,325 motor vehicles stolen. According to police, only 397 have been recovered.

So if your car is stolen, police say the chances of you getting it back are slim to none. Police say if it goes to a chop shop, they may never find it or they may find bits and pieces of it.

So what are thieves looking for?

From June to September of this year, Chevys are the most stolen vehicles in the city of Memphis with Fords in a close second, followed by Nissans. (227 Chevys were stolen, 134 Fords and 107 Nissans).

Police say thieves are looking for an easy target and the biggest reason cars are stolen is because of unlocked doors, valuable items in eyesight or, even worse, they leave the car running.

"These guys stand around at the gas station waiting, because they know somebody is gonna drive up and leave their car running," Col. Marcus Worthy with Memphis Police said, Sometimes, even kids are the culprits.

"We've had them as young as 11 years old driving stolen cars," he said.

Worthy says he's urging drivers to take the extra time to secure their cars and their families.

"If you got kids in your car, don't leave that car running, because these guys don't care if you got children or not, they're gonna drive off in that car," he said. "And then we're looking at a kidnapping."

Today, Becton is still paying for the damage to her car after it was stolen. From the bumper to the headlights and even the fender, she says it was a hard lesson. But now she's more vigilant.

"It takes away something from you because you work very hard for it and it hurts you in a way, your pride, and it violates you," Becton said. "It made me more alert of my surroundings and more cautious."

Police say they recover stolen cars from OnStar, sometimes from tips or even just running a license plate, but so many get away so they're asking for your help.

If you see something suspicious, say something.