GLENDALE  (  —   The CHP is warning motorists that car thefts spike in July — more than any other month.

As the temperatures soar, so do vehicle thefts.

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Officials say it takes mere seconds to take off with a vehicle.

KCAL9’s has some tips to protect drivers.

Why the spike in thefts? Experts believe it’s because of an increase in activities and that driver’s might not be as vigilant and could be distracted.

“The violation, it’s hard to describe unless it’s happened to you,” said Tracy Johnson, who knows what it feels like to look for a car that isn’t there.

The CHP says, on average, a car is stolen in California every three minutes.

Busy parking lots can be a hot spot.

“You’ll have thieves that will stand in the parking lot, and they’ll see you’re getting out and they know that you’re going to be gone for at least 30 minutes to an hour,” says Ryan Rouzan of the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

Rouzan knows first hand. It’s happened to him.

“It’s a horrible feeling,” he says.

But Rouzan says there are things you can do to avoid being a victim. Some are obvious.

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•Lock your doors.

•Park where it’s well lit.

•Never leave a car running and walk away from it.

•A visible backpack or houe keys can also make your car a target.

“My husband always told me don’t do that, but I didn’t pay attention until once it was stolen,” says Helen Gharibjanian.

There are also the less obvious ways to help protect your car.

For example, put your emergency brake on whenever you park. It could confuse or at least slow down the thief.

And don’t think leaving the windows open just a little bit is no big deal. Rouzan says that is all a thief needs.

“If they can just get their fingers in the top of the window, they can slightly pull the window down,” he says.

He also reminds you to always set the car alarm.

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“An alarm is a huge deterrent for thieves,” Rouzan says.