Auto Theft

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. A motor vehicle was stolen on average every 45 seconds in the U.S. in 2013.

Vehicle thefts have been trending downward in the 23 years since they peaked at 1,661,738 in 1991, falling 58 percent to 699,594 in 2013, according to a 2014 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). As a result, 56 percent of Americans rarely or never worry that their car will be stolen, according to a 2014 Gallop poll. The NICB 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.

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.

MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT IN THE UNITED STATES, 2004-2013

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
2004 1,237,851 -1.9%
2005 1,235,859 -0.2
2006 1,198,245 -3.0
2007 1,100,472 -8.2
2008 959,059 -12.9
2009 795,652 -17.0
2010 739,565 -7.0
2011 716,508 -3.1
2012 721,186 0.9
2013 699,594 -3.3

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

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  • Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 221.3 per 100,000 people in 2013, down 3.9 percent from 2012 and down 47.5 percent from 2004.
  • More than $4.1 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2013. The average dollar loss per theft was $5,972.

TOP 10 U.S. METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS BY MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT RATE, 2014

 

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 29,093 633.27
2 Bakersfield, CA 5,211 595.82
3 Stockton-Lodi, CA 4,245 593.21
4 Odessa, TX  886 575.68
5 Modesto, CA 3,047 572.75
6 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 3,032 560.49
7 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 2,414 559.92
8 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA  20,268 552.04
9 Fresno, CA 5,260 544.53
10 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 10,531 539.26

(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 2014 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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  • Seven of the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas for motor vehicle theft were in California in 2014. Two were in Washington state and one was in Texas.

 

TOP 10 STATES WITH THE MOST AND THE FEWEST NUMBER OF MOTOR VEHICLE THEFTS, 2013

   Most motor vehicle thefts     Fewest motor vehicle thefts  
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State Vehicles stolen
1 California 165,292 1 Vermont 334
2 Texas 65,745 2 Wyoming 578
3 Florida 34,912 3 Maine 914
4 Washington 28,399 4 South Dakota 938
5 Georgia 26,826 5 New Hampshire 940
6 Michigan 24,567 6 Delaware 1,332
7 Illinois 20,933 7 North Dakota 1,416
8 Ohio 19,532 8 Idaho 1,536
9 Arizona 17,438 9 Alaska 1,695
10 Missouri 16,325 10 Montana 1,850

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

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MOST STOLEN VEHICLES

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that the Honda Accord was the most frequently stolen passenger vehicle in 2013, with 53,995 thefts among all model years of this car. The Honda Civic ranked second, with 45,001 thefts. The NICB notes that older Honda Accords and Civics account for these most of these thefts. Newer Hondas are rarely stolen, due to improved antitheft technology. Among 2013 model year vehicles, the Nissan Altima was the most frequently stolen vehicle in calendar year 2013, with 810 thefts, followed by the Ford Fusion, with 793 thefts.

 

TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY STOLEN PASSENGER VEHICLES, 2013

Rank Model (1) Thefts
1 Honda Accord 53,995
2 Honda Civic 45,001
3 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) 27,809
4 Ford Pickup (Full Size) 26,494
5 Toyota Camry 14,420
6 Dodge Pickup (Full Size) 11,347
7 Dodge Caravan 10,911
8 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 9,272
9 Toyota Corolla 9,010
10 Nissan Altima 8,892

(1) Includes all model years for each vehicle.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY STOLEN PASSENGER VEHICLES, 2013 MODEL YEAR

Rank Model Thefts
1 Nissan Altima 810
2 Ford Fusion 793
3 Ford Pickup Full Size 775
4 Toyota Corolla 669
5 Chevrolet Impala 654
6 Hyundai Elantra 541
7 Dodge Charger 536
8 Chevrolet Malibu 529
9 Chevrolet Cruze 499
10 Ford Focus 483

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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HOLIDAYS RANKED BY THE NUMBER OF VEHICLE THEFTS, 2013

Rank Holiday Number of thefts
1 New Year's Day 2,184
2 Halloween 1,998
3 Memorial Day 1,972
4 Labor Day 1,915
5 President's Day 1,894
6 Christmas Eve 1,774
7 Valentine's Day 1,757
8 Independence Day 1,750
9 New Year's Eve 1,715
10 Thanksgiving 1,353
11 Christmas Day 1,224

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

  • By comparison, the day in all of 2013 with the most vehicle thefts was August 12 with 2,316 thefts, according to the NICB.
  • The day in all of 2013 with the fewest vehicle thefts was Christmas Day with 1,224 thefts.