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 $5.9 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2016. The average dollar loss per theft was $7,680. Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 236.9 per 100,000 people in 2016, up 7.6 percent from 2015 but down 35.1 percent from 2007.

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. The number of vehicles stolen with the key or keyless entry device left inside by the owner climbed 22 percent in 2015 to 57,096, according to the NICB.

Motor Vehicle Theft In The United States, 2007-2016

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
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 686,803 -1.9
2015 713,063 3.8
2016 765,484 7.4

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 236.9 per 100,000 people in 2016, up 7.6 percent from 2015 but down 35.1 percent from 2007.
  • About $5.9 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2016. The average dollar loss per theft was $7,680.

Top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas By Motor Vehicle Theft Rate, 2016

 

Rank Metropolitan statistical area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 Albuquerque, NM 10,011 1,114.01
2 Pueblo, CO 1,325 899.43
3 Bakersfield, CA 7,176 854.66
4 Modesto, CA 3,820 767.69
5 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 25,708 679.05
6 Anchorage, AK 2,273 669.38
7 Merced, CA 1,622 660.65
8 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA         29,414 640.26
9 Fresno, CA 5,682 631.79
10 Billings, MT 877 625.38

(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 2016 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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  • Six of the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas for motor vehicle theft were in California in 2016. The other four were in New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska and Montana.

 

Top 10 States With The Most And The Fewest Number Of Motor Vehicle Thefts, 2016

  Most motor vehicle thefts   Fewest motor vehicle thefts
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State Vehicles stolen
1 California 176,756 1 Vermont 282
2 Texas 69,056 2 Maine 775
3 Florida 43,135 3 Wyoming 800
4 Washington 32,286 4 New Hampshire 871
5 Georgia 26,801 5 South Dakota 1,502
6 Michigan 20,176 6 Delaware 1,520
7 Illinois 19,910 7 Rhode Island 1,596
8 Ohio 19,667 8 North Dakota 1,964
9 Colorado 19,611 9 Idaho 2,077
10 Arizona 18,421 10 West Virginia 2,509

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 2016, with 50,427 thefts among all model years of this car. The Honda Civic ranked second, with 49,547 thefts. There was no change in these models’ ranking from a year ago. The NICB notes that older Honda Accords and Civics account for almost all of these thefts. Newer Hondas are stolen less frequently, due to improved anti-theft technology like “smart keys”. Only 493 thefts of 2016 Accords were reported last year. Among 2016 model year vehicles, the Toyota Camry was the most frequently stolen vehicle in calendar year 2016, with 1,113 thefts, followed by the Nissan Altima with 1,063 thefts.

 

Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles, 2016

 

All model years (1) 2016 model year vehicles only
Rank Model Thefts Rank Model Thefts
1 Honda Accord 50,427 1 Toyota Camry 1,113
2 Honda Civic 49,547 2 Nissan Altima 1,063
3 Ford Pickup (Full size) 32,721 3 Toyota Corolla 982
4 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 31,238 4 Dodge Charger 945
5 Toyota Camry 16,732 5 Ford Fusion 914
6 Nissan Altima 12,221 6 Hyundai Sonata 887
7 Dodge Pickup (Full size) 12,128 7 GMC Sierra 884
8 Toyota Corolla 11,989 8 Hyundai Elantra 832
9 Chevrolet Impala 9,749 9 Ford Pickup (Full size) 738
10 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 9,245 10 Ford Transit 669

(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, 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.

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