Photo: AP

I never realized how quick you could steal a tailgate until I owned a Ford Ranger. It seemed like every other time I flung the tailgate open, it’d slide off the tabs with ease—and thieves are well aware of the simplicity. Tailgate thefts declined slightly in 2017, according to a new report, but the actual number could be higher because no one knows how many go unreported.

The report, compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, sketched out the number of tailgate thefts across the U.S. by relying on insurance claims. Overall, the report says, the number of thefts dropped to 1,788 in 2017 from 18,77 in 2016—about a 5 percent dip.

“This report is based on insurance claims,” the NICB wrote. “Therefore, the actual number of tailgate theft incidents reported to law enforcement agencies may be considerably higher since many thefts do not generate an insurance claim.”

One thing the report does show is where the most tailgate thefts occur in the U.S. Texas and California logged more than 60 percent of the claims alone:

Photo: NICB

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Compared to previous years, that isn’t too much of a surprise, but there are some newcomers to the list. And, you’ll see, Maryland and Missouri are tied for 10th, so there’s actually 11 here.

Nevada and South Carolina’s entry to the list came as a result of an increase in tailgate thefts by 245 percent and 118 percent, respectively. When it comes to cities, the NICB found Houston, Dallas and San Antonio still rank atop the list for most tailgate theft claims.

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Photo: NICB

Tailgates retail around $1,300, and the reason thieves go for them is simple, according to the NICB.

“The incentive for tailgate thefts is consistent with other thefts; the cost to replace an item legitimately far outweighs the risk to acquiring one by stealing it,” the NICB says.

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So, do you want to avoid getting yours lifted?

“New vehicles now have locking tailgates that help deter thefts, and owners of older models can purchase tailgate locks to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves,” the NICB says. “A minimal investment in security can go a long way in saving owners lots of money and inconvenience should they become victims of tailgate theft.”

A simple lock—that’s some pretty sound advice. Take note.