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St. Petersburg, Florida -- These days, there's a hot new trend for thieves, looking to get their hands, on a hot car.

St. Petersburg Police tells 10 News, while burglaries are down almost 20 percent, when they do happen thieves target your car keys. There have been 21 cases in just the past nine months.

Gone are the days of smash and grab, and hotwiring. Auto thefts overall are up, with nearly 200 reported this year so far. In about 150 cases, crooks used keys.

These days, there's a hot new trend for thieves, looking to get their hands, on a hot car. WTSP

Believe it or not, even some within the car industry blame the recent increase in thefts on new technology.

"We had a problem with theft…it was a learning curve for dealers too," says Caitlin Schmidt, a salesperson at Suncoast Jeep Chrysler Dodge.

Schmidt says microchip keys and keyless entry, combined with push button starts, make vehicles easier to steal.

"Once you wire a car, you turn the car off, and turn it back on, it can't start again," she says.

But on the other hand, the same technology which is meant as a convenience can also keep you safer the next time around.

"You just reprogram the keys. Simple way to prevent burglars from coming back," Schmidt advises.

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