Facts + Statistics: Auto theft

Motor vehicle theft

The FBI includes the theft or attempted theft of automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, snowmobiles and other vehicles in its definition of motor vehicle theft. About $6.4 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2019. The average dollar loss per theft was $8,886. Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 219.9 per 100,000 people in 2019, down from 230.2 in 2018. In 2019, 721,885 vehicles were stolen, down 4.0 percent from 751,885 vehicles in 2018.

Vehicle thefts have been trending downward in the 26 years since they peaked at 1.7 million in 1991, falling about 55 percent to 773,139 in 2017, according to the FBI. The National Insurance Crime Bureau credits law enforcement efforts, along with the creation of specific antitheft programs, technology and insurance company-supported organizations such as the NICB for contributing to the theft reduction. Preliminary data from the FBI show that in the first half of 2018, vehicle thefts decreased by another 3.3 percent.

Despite the reduction in vehicle thefts over the past two decades, industry observers caution that thieves constantly devise new and sophisticated means of stealing autos. Tactics include acquiring smart keys, which eliminated hot-wiring to steal cars; switching vehicle identification numbers; and using stolen identities to secure loans for expensive vehicles.

More alarming is the finding that there were 229,339 vehicle thefts with keys or fobs left in the vehicles between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018. According to the NICB, this represents a 56% increase in vehicle thefts with keys or fobs in the vehicle from the 147,434 vehicles stolen in this manner between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015. The 2016 to 2018 vehicles stolen works out to 209 vehicles every day during those three years. The top five states with the most thefts with keys or fobs left in the vehicle during this period were California (31,185), Florida (17,300), Texas (15,511), Ohio (12,596) and Nevada (11,391).

Motor Vehicle Theft, 2010-2019

 

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
2010 739,565 -7.0%
2011 716,508 -3.1
2012 723,186 0.9
2013 700,288 -3.2
2014 686,803 -1.9
2015 713,063 3.8
2016 767,290 7.6
2017 772,943 0.7
2018                      751,904 -2.7
2019                      721,885 -4.0

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

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Top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas By Motor Vehicle Theft Rate, 2019

 

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 Bakersfield, CA  6,538 726.28
2 Albuquerque, NM  6,399 697.05
3 St. Joseph, MO-KS  770 614.90
4 Modesto, CA  3,156 573.13
5 Odessa, TX  946 569.11
6 Topeka, KS  1,293 557.40
7 Yuba City, CA 959 546.01
8 Merced, CA  1,483 534.07
9 Yakima, WA  1,325 528.16
10 Springfield, MO  2,420 514.57

(1) Metropolitan Statistical Areas are designated by the federal Office of Management and Budget and usually include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named.
(2) Rate of vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 people based on the 2019 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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  • Four of the top U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area for motor vehicle theft by theft rates were in California in 2019. The other six were Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.

Top 10 States With The Most And The Fewest Number Of Motor Vehicle Thefts, 2019

 

Most motor vehicle thefts Fewest motor vehicle thefts
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State Vehicles stolen
1 California 141,757 1 Vermont 298
2 Texas 77,489 2 Wyoming 713
3 Florida 39,048 3 Maine 726
4 Washington 24,402 4 New Hampshire 893
5 Georgia 23,776 5 Rhode Island 1,358
6 Colorado 22,113 6 Idaho 1,571
7 Missouri 21,072 7 Delaware 1,604
8 Tennessee 19,180 8 South Dakota 1,756
9 Illinois 18,775 9 North Dakota 1,792
10 Ohio 18,672 10 D.C. 2,333

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

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Motorcycle Thefts, 2018

 

Top five motorcycle makes stolen Top five states by motorcycle thefts Top five cities by motorcycle thefts
Rank Make Thefts Rank State Thefts Rank City Thefts
1  American Honda Motor Co., Inc.  8,260 1  California  7,035 1   New York, NY   1,310
2 Yamaha Motor Corporation  6,655 2 Florida  4,279 2  Los Angeles, CA   628
3 American Suzuki Motor Corporation  4,882 3 Texas  3,073 3  Miami, FL   595
4 Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.  4,861 4 New York  1,777 4  Las Vegas, NV   540
5 Harley Davidson, Inc.  4,769 5 South Carolina 1,743 5 San Diego, CA 527

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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Most stolen vehicles

The Honda Civic was the most frequently stolen passenger vehicle in 2017, with 45,062 thefts among all model years of this car, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).  The bureau notes that most of these thefts were older models that lack the anti-theft technology of today’s models.  In fact, there were 6,707 thefts of the 1998 model year Civic, but only 388 of the 2017 Civics. The Honda Accord ranked second, with 43,764 thefts. Among 2017 model year vehicles, the Nissan Altima was the most frequently stolen vehicle in calendar year 2017, with 1,153 thefts, followed by the Toyota Camry with 1,100 thefts.

Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles, 2019

 

All model years (1) 2019 model year vehicles only
Rank Model Thefts Rank Model Thefts
1 Ford Pickup (Full size) 38,938 1 Ford Pick-Up (Full size) 1,767
2 Honda Civic 33,220 2 Ram Pick-Up (Full size) 1,547
3 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 32,583 3 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 1,110
4 Honda Accord 30,745 4 Nissan Sentra 959
5 Toyota Camry 15,656 5 Dodge Charger 888
6 Nissan Altima 13,355 6 Nissan Altima 863
7 Toyota Corolla 12,137 7 Toyota Camry 770
8 Dodge Pickup (Full size) 11,292 8 Toyota Corolla 758
9 GMC Pickup (Full size) 11,164 9 Ford Transit 744
10 Honda CR-V 10,094 10 Dodge Challenger 689

(1) Includes all model years for each vehicle.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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Holidays Ranked by the Number of Vehicle Thefts, 2018

 

Rank Holiday Number of thefts
1 New Year’s Day 2,571
2 President’s Day 2,380
3 Halloween 2,275
4 Labor Day 2,235
5 Memorial Day 2,167
6 New Year’s Eve 2,122
7 Independence Day 2,071
8 Valentine's Day 2,001
9 Christmas Eve 1,912
10 Thanksgiving 1,698
11 Christmas Day 1,447

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

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