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, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. 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 6.6 percent from 2015.

Vehicle thefts have been trending downward in the 25 years since they peaked at 1.7 million in 1991, falling 46 percent to 765,484 in 2016, 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. However, there was an uptick in the number of vehicles stolen in 2015 and 2016, up by 3.8 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. In addition, preliminary data from the FBI show that in the first half of 2017, vehicle thefts increased by another 4.1 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. 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 6.6 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, 2017

 

Rank Metropolitan statistical area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 Albuquerque, NM 9,989 1,096.82
2 Anchorage, AK 3,274 816.69
3 Pueblo, CO 1,353 812.73
4 Redding, CA 1,352 751.44
5 St. Joseph, MO 952 749.99
6 Bakersfield, CA 6,560 734.50
7 Modesto, CA 3,870 706.33
8 Stockton-Lodi, CA 4,575 613.74
9 Yuba City, CA 1,050 604.56
10 Springfield, MO 2,686 580.92

(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 2017 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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  • Five of the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas for motor vehicle theft were in California in 2017. The other five were in New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, and Missouri.

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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Motorcycle Thefts, 2017

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. 8,781 1 California 7,532 1 New York, NY 980
2 Yamaha Motor Corporation 7,298 2 Florida 4,323 2 San Diego, CA 846
3 American Suzuki Motor Corporation 5,530 3 Texas 3,525 3 Los Angeles, CA 833
4 Harley Davidson, Inc. 5,138 4 South Carolina 1,732 4 Las Vegas, NV 583
5 Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. 5,101 5 North Carolina 1,632 5 Miami, FL 575

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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, 2017

 

All model years (1)   2017 model year vehicles only
Rank Model  Thefts Rank Model Thefts
1 Honda Civic 45,062 1 Nissan Altima  1,153
2 Honda Accord 43,764 2 Toyota Camry  1,100
3 Ford Pickup (Full size) 35,105 3 GMC Pickup (Full size) 957
4 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 30,058 4 Hyundai Elantra  929
5 Toyota Camry 17,278 5 Ford Fusion  874
6 Nissan Altima 13,358 6 Ford Pickup (Full size) 842
7 Toyota Corolla 12,337 7 Ram Pickup  835
8 Dodge Pickup (Full size) 12,004 8 Toyota Corolla  832
9 GMC Pickup (Full size) 10,865 9 GMC Savana  774
10 Chevrolet Impala 9,487 10 Hyundai Sonata  759

(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, 2016

 

Rank Holiday Number of thefts
1 Halloween 2,578
2 Labor Day 2,258
3 New Year's Day 2,242
4 Memorial Day 2,139
5 New Year's Eve 2,110
6 Independence Day 2,086
7 Christmas Eve 2,054
8 President's Day 2,008
9 Valentine's Day 1,789
10 Thanksgiving 1,777

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

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  • By comparison, the day in all of 2016 with the most vehicle thefts was August 1 with 2,840 thefts, according to the NICB.
  • Christmas Day had the fewest vehicle thefts in 2016 with 1,664 thefts.

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