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 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2018. The average dollar loss per theft was $8,407. Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 228.9 per 100,000 people in 2018, down from 237.7 in 2017. In 2018, 748,841 vehicles were stolen, down 3.1 percent from 772,943 vehicles in 2017.

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, 2009-2018

 

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
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 767,290 7.6
2017 772,943 0.7
2018 748,841 -3.1

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, 2018

 

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 Albuquerque, NM 7,146 780.19
2 Anchorage, AK 3,087 773.40
3 Bakersfield, CA 6,748 752.48
4 Pueblo, CO 1,175 701.37
5 Modesto, CA 3,428 623.48
6 Redding, CA 1,037 575.98
7 Stockton-Lodi, CA 4,287 569.58
8 Wichita, KS 3,547 550.02
9 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 2,404 538.28
10 St. Joseph, MO-KS 674 532.85

(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 2018 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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  • Although Albuquerque, NM was the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area for motor vehicle theft by theft rates for the second consecutive year, five of the top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas for motor vehicle theft were in California in 2018. The other four were in Alaska, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.

Top 10 States With The Most And The Fewest Number Of Motor Vehicle Thefts, 2018

 

Most motor vehicle thefts Fewest motor vehicle thefts
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State Vehicles stolen
1 California 155,211 1 Vermont 253
2 Texas 69,817 2 Maine 777
3 Florida 41,165 3 Wyoming 839
4 Washington 27,677 4 New Hampshire 869
5 Georgia 24,760 5 Delaware 1,476
6 Colorado 21,673 6 South Dakota 1,524
7 Tennessee 20,439 7 Rhode Island 1,531
8 Ohio 19,909 8 North Dakota 1,775
9 Missouri 19,815 9 Idaho 1,964
10 Illinois 19,593 10 West Virginia 2,519

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, 2017

 

Rank Holiday Number of thefts
1 New Year’s Day 2,469
2 President’s Day 2,312
3 Halloween  2,297
4 Memorial Day 2,290
5 Labor Day 2,180
6 Valentine’s Day 2,169
7 Independence Day 2,124
8 New Year’s Eve 1,962
9 Christmas Eve 2,054
10 Thanksgiving 1,777
11 Christmas Day 1,664

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

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