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 is stolen on average every 46 seconds in the United States.

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, 2005-2014

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
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 723,186 0.9
2013 700,288 -3.2
2014 689,527 -1.5

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 216.2  per 100,000 people in 2014, down 2.3 percent from 2013 and down 48.1 percent from 2005.
  • More than $4.5 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2014. The average dollar loss per theft was $6,537.

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 and one was in Texas.

 

TOP 10 STATES WITH THE MOST AND THE FEWEST NUMBER OF MOTOR VEHICLE THEFTS, 2014

   Most motor vehicle thefts   Fewest motor vehicle thefts
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State Vehicles stolen
1 California 151,852 1 Vermont 244
2 Texas 68,546 2 Wyoming 603
3 Florida 42,579 3 Maine 799
4 Washington 30,647 4 New Hampshire 857
5 Georgia 26,854 5 South Dakota 1,007
6 Michigan 21,157 6 Delaware 1,267
7 Ohio 18,015 7 North Dakota 1,514
8 Arizona 17,587 8 Idaho 1,661
9 Illinois 17,451 9 Alaska 1,739
10 Missouri 16,357 10 Rhode Island 1,833

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 2014, with 51,290 thefts among all model years of this car. The Honda Civic ranked second, with 43,936 thefts. The NICB notes that older Honda Accords and Civics account for most of these thefts. Newer Hondas are rarely stolen, due to improved antitheft technology. Among 2014 model year vehicles, the full-size Ford pickup was the most frequently stolen vehicle in calendar year 2014, with 964 thefts, followed by the Toyota Camry with 869 thefts.

 

TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY STOLEN VEHICLES, 2014

Rank Model (1) Thefts
1 Honda Accord 51,290
2 Honda Civic 43,936
3 Ford Pickup (Full size) 28,680
4 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 23,196
5 Toyota Camry 14,605
6 Dodge Pickup (Full size) 11,075
7 Dodge Caravan 10,483
8 Nissan Altima 9,109
9 Acura Integra 6,902
10 Nissan Maxima 6,586

(1) Includes all model years for each vehicle.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY STOLEN VEHICLES, 2014 MODEL YEAR

Rank Model Thefts
1 Ford Pickup (Full size) 964
2 Toyota Camry 869
3 Ford Fusion 819
4 Chevrolet Impala 746
5 Nissan Altima 687
6 Dodge Charger 680
7 Toyota Corolla 578
8 Chevrolet Cruze 566
9 Ford Focus 505
10 Chevrolet Malibu 410

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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HOLIDAYS RANKED BY THE NUMBER OF VEHICLE THEFTS, 2014

 

Rank (1) Holiday Number of thefts
1 Labor Day 2,200
2 New Year's Day 2,011
3 Halloween 2,010
4 Memorial Day 1,933
5 Independence Day 1,877
6 New Year's Eve 1,858
7 Valentine's Day 1,750
7 Christmas Eve 1,750
8 President's Day 1,695
9 Thanksgiving 1,384
10 Christmas Day 1,225

(1) Holidays with the same number of thefts receive the same rank number.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

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  • By comparison, the day in all of 2014 with the most vehicle thefts was July 7 with 2,361 thefts.