15 States with the Highest Vehicle Theft Rates (5-Year Study)

Our five-year study of the states with the highest vehicle theft rates uncovered a shocking total of 2,159 stolen vehicles between 2014 and 2018 in just 15 states. The District of Columbia ranks first for the worst area for vehicle theft, with an average of 898 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles. The state with the least vehicle theft is Vermont, with an annual average of 37 cars stolen.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati.com. H...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 25, 2021

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Here's What You Need to Know

  • 737,000 vehicles were stolen annually nationwide between 2014 and 2018
  • California had the most vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018 at 150 million
  • The worst year between 2014 and 2018 was 2017 with 773,000 vehicles stolen
  • Five of our worst 15 states were Democratic states and seven were Republican

Worst States for Vehicle Theft - Ranking - USA Map - Election Colors

Car theft may feel like a violation and an intrusion on your personal space. Even worse, it may impact your pocketbook to the tune of thousands of dollars.

There were 3,683,769 car thefts across American between 2014 and 2018, which might be surprising to know.

That is the sample size of our five-year study analyzing the 15 states with the highest vehicle theft rates.

Check out the graphic above to get a quick look at which states make up our worst 15 states for motor vehicle theft, including which ones are generally Republican states, Democratic states, or swing states. Annual stolen vehicle rates are listed next to each state’s or district’s name.

Living in an area with a high number of thefts can cause your insurance rates to rise even if you have never had your car stolen. If you want to be protected specifically from vehicle theft, you’d need to purchase comprehensive car insurance.

Researching the best car insurance company in 2021 can give you a leg-up in finding the right insurance company that meets your insurance needs, including comprehensive car insurance.

The quickest and easiest way to save money on car insurance — for comprehensive or any other type of coverage — is to compare live quotes from different car insurance companies.

Enter your ZIP code into our free online quote comparison tool to do just that and start saving on car insurance today.

In this article, we’ll cover how vehicle theft affects car insurance and other numerous topics related to vehicle robbery. These include:

  • Car theft statistics by state
  • Car theft statistics by year 
  • Car theft statistics by vehicle

In the Frequently Asked Questions section, we’ll cover more motor vehicle theft statistics, some of the highest car theft cities, and car theft statistics by model, and general cars with high theft rates. Ready? Let’s get started.

15 States with the Highest Vehicle Theft Rates

Each of the 15 states with the highest car theft rates had at least 316 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018.

The worst state/district overall had 898 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles, while the No. 15 state had 316 vehicles stolen per those 100,000 registered vehicles.

Check out the graphic below. Five of the worst 15 states are in Democratic states. Seven are in Republican states. Three are in swing states.

Vehicle Theft Facts 5-Year Study 15 Worst States for Vehicle Theft

For the five-year period, the worst 15 states averaged annually 432 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles. This is 175 more vehicles stolen compared to the nationwide average. That’s 57 percent more vehicles.

Car theft causes billions of dollars lost every year although it has declined significantly since 1995. In 2019, the total losses were $6.4 billion.

If you didn’t see your state listed in the graphic and want to find out where it stands, head over to our complete ranking, which covers all 50 states and the one district.

Without further ado, here are the 15 states where you are most likely to have your car stolen with vehicle robbery statistics from 2014 to 2018. Let’s dive right in into car theft rates by state.

#15  – Georgia

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 316
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 131,160
  • State registered vehicles: 8,297,476

Ranking No. 15, Georgia averaged 316 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. However, there is a positive: In the five-year period where thefts grew 9 percent nationwide, thefts in Georgia declined by 8 percent.

Georgia has numerous laws for stolen vehicles dependent on the specific act — such as a law against hijacking a motor vehicle to one that covers joyriding and criminal trespass.

Some have punishments as misdemeanors, with jail time up to one year and $1,000 in fines. Others are punishable for up to 20 years in jail with $100,000 in fines.

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#14 – Arizona

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 316
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 90,990
  • State registered vehicles: 5,755,260

Arizona, ranked No. 14 in our ranking, averaging 316 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. It is exactly at the national trend with a 9 percent growth in vehicle thefts during that time period.

Arizona set up the Vehicle Theft Task Force in 1997 to combat motor vehicle robbery. This task force recovered 1,635 vehicles with an estimated value of over $23.7 million.

It also apprehended 306 suspects of car thefts and shut down 15 chop shops. A major problem in Arizona is that some of the vehicles were stolen in Mexico, then driven to Arizona. To this end, the task force has trained Mexican car robbery investigators and works on transnational crime investigations.

#13 – South Carolina

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 320
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 68,381
  • State registered vehicles: 4,273,261

Ranked No. 13 in our list of the 15 states with the highest vehicle theft rates, South Carolina averaged 320 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. There is bad news here as well: at 11 percent, South Carolina exceeds the nationwide growth in car thefts of 9 percent.

Car theft is often defined by the action and the intent. Carjacking is a more serious crime than joyriding, for instance. The penalty of theft is also correlated to the value of the car being stolen.

A theft of an item — including a car — that is worth $2,000 or less is punishable by up to 30 days in prison and a fine up to $1,000. The penalties go up from there, with carjacking resulting in a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

#12 – Missouri

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 326
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 90,387
  • State registered vehicles: 5,541,768

Missouri, No. 12 in our ranking, had an average of 326 vehicles stolen annually per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. The growth of vehicle thefts in Missouri exceeds the growth nationwide: 15 percent to 9 percent.

Missouri has some steep penalties for theft, including five separate categories for felonies.

The harshest penalty for car theft in Missouri is a felony A category for stealing anything that includes anhydrous ammonia, which is used to make methamphetamine.

The penalties range from a fine of $500 or less for stealing an item worth $150 or less to 10 to 30 years in prison for that felony A category.

#11 – Oklahoma

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 332
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 58,728
  • State registered vehicles: 3,537,385

Ranked No. 11 in our list of the state with the highest stolen vehicle rates, Oklahoma averaged 332 vehicles stolen per 100,000 vehicles registered between 2014 and 2018. The state bears another bad statistic: at 26 percent, Oklahoma has the sixth-largest increase in thefts for that five-year period out of our 15 worst states.

Oklahoma has some of the lightest punishments for vehicle theft compared to our previous states. For non-violent thefts of vehicles, punishments range from less than one year up to 10 years in prison depending on the value of the vehicle stolen.

#10 – Oregon

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 355
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 66,985
  • State registered vehicles: 3,776,695

Oregon, ranked No. 10 in our list, averaged 355 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. During that time period, its number of vehicles stolen grew 73 percent, 64 percent more than the nationwide average.

Recently, because Portland, Oregon has had such a high number of thefts, lawmakers in the state capital passed a bill to make prosecution of thieves easier. One lawmaker was cited as saying that lower-income families were targeted the most because they had older cars than other demographics. Some older car models are easier to steal than newer models.

#9 – Colorado

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 359
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 91,719
  • State registered vehicles: 5,111,623

Ranked No. 9 in this list, Colorado averaged 359 vehicles stolen out of 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. It has the third-largest increase in the number of vehicle thefts — 72 percent or 63 percent higher than the national average.

Colorado has very steep penalties for car robberies. Joyriding, one of the lightest vehicle robbery charges, can land a person in jail for up to three years if the vehicle had a value of $20,000 or over. Using the theft to commit crimes such as altering the vehicle’s plates can lead to up to 12 years in prison or a fine of up to $750,000.

There are even steep penalties for theft of motor vehicle parts with four crimes under that designation class 5 felonies or worse.

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#8 – Utah

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 373
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 42,650
  • State registered vehicles: 2,285,124

Utah, which ranks No. 8 in our list of the states with the highest vehicle theft rates, averaged 373 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. There is good news about car theft in Utah:

The number of thefts in Utah increased by just 6 percent between 2014 and 2018, which was 3 percent lower than the number nationwide.

To combat the rising number of thefts in Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital, the Salt Lake City Police Department created a unit specifically designed to handle car thefts. This unit focuses on recovering vehicles, investigating chop shops, and educating the public and building relationships with the community.

#7 – Alaska

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 376
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 15,096
  • State registered vehicles: 803,672

Ranked No. 7, Alaska averaged 376 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. It also comes in first in a statistic, perhaps it wishes it didn’t: growth in the number of thefts from 2014 to 2018. Its rise of 130 percent is 121 percent higher than the nationwide average.

To combat vehicle theft, the Alaska government has created a “vehicle hot sheet” which lists all the known stolen vehicles from the last 30 days. Information includes the make and model of the vehicle, the color, and the year it was made.

Often, some details are missing with several entries just including the license plate number. The police department tells people not to take action themselves but to call the nearest law enforcement agency or the Alaska State Troopers.

#6 – Hawaii

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 410
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 26,230
  • State registered vehicles: 1,278,846

Hawaii ranked No. 6 on this list of the worst states for stolen vehicle rates, averaged 410 stolen vehicles per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 and 2018. It, unfortunately, joins a group of states with the highest increases in the number of thefts: 46 percent between 2014 and 2018, 37 percent higher than the nationwide average.

Even as cities across the country are seeing a boom in the number of car thefts due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Honolulu Police Department is seeing a different trend — people leaving their keys in the car while running errands, which creates an easy opportunity for thieves.

#5 – Washington

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 423
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 146,273
  • State registered vehicles: 6,917,450

Ranked No. 5 on this list of the 15 worst states for vehicle theft rate, Washington averaged 423 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered between 2014 and 2018. There is good news for Washington, however: It is just one of three of the worst states to have a decrease in the number of thefts from 2014 to 2018.

Washington’s vehicle robberies decreased by 10 percent from 2014 to 2018, meaning that it was 19 percent better than the nationwide average.

The Washington legislature shares that, before this time period, car thefts were growing, with juveniles accounting for half of the vehicle thieves.

It also cites that stolen vehicles are often linked to other crimes such as robbery or assault. It suggests that a key to combating car theft is better communication between law enforcement agencies, increased public awareness, and appropriate punishment and treatment for first-time offenders.

#4 – Nevada

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 498
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 59,432
  • State registered vehicles: 2,384,999

Nevada, ranked No. 4 on this list, averaged 498 stolen vehicles per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. Its number of vehicle thefts increased by a small amount — 17 percent, or 8 percent higher than the nationwide average of 9 percent.

Las Vegas sees more vehicle thefts than any other region in the state, in part due to the tourism Las Vegas receives and the organized crime groups operating there.

To decrease the number of stolen vehicles, the Las Vegas Police Department formed the VIPER Auto Theft Task Force. In Las Vegas, the Department of Public Safety notes that car robberies are a profitable business due to the factors mentioned above, as well as the three major roadways running through the city.

#3 – New Mexico

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 531
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 48,510
  • State registered vehicles: 1,828,466

Ranked No. 3 in our list of the 15 worst states for vehicle theft, New Mexico is not a stranger to car thefts, averaging 531 thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. The number of thefts in the state increased 61 percent from 2014 to 2018, 52 percent higher than the national average.

Albuquerque, its largest city, is routinely one of the worst cities for vehicle robberies in the country, often averaging upwards of 800 stolen vehicles per 100,000 people. Six out of the top 10 most stolen cars in New Mexico are trucks, with Honda cars taking up two of the four remaining spaces.

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#2 – California

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 548
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 823,203
  • State registered vehicles: 30,029,832

California ranked No. 2 on this list of the worst states for vehicle theft, averaged 548 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles between 2014 and 2018. There is positive news: The number of car thefts from 2014 to 2018 increased just 2 percent, 7 percent lower than the national average.

The California Highway Patrol notes that 165,000 vehicles were stolen in California in 2018, one every three minutes. The total value of those vehicles amounted to $1.2 billion, with 49 percent being automobiles and 39 percent being trucks or sport-utility vehicles.

#1 – District of Columbia

  • Vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles: 898
  • Total vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018: 15,200
  • State registered vehicles: 338,462

Ranked No. 1 as the worst state or district in the country for vehicle theft, Washington, D.C. averaged 898 stolen vehicles per 100,000 registered vehicles, easily surpassing our No. 2 state by 350 extra vehicles.

The ironic part: The District of Columbia actually experienced a decline in the number of stolen vehicles by 32 percent, 43 better than the nationwide average. Unfortunately, vehicle robberies in 2020 are rising again.

Car thefts are rising in 2020 in Washington, D.C. in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

D.C. Police Department states that the uptick in the car theft statistics in 2020 is partly occurring due to the increase in food and grocery delivery drivers who leave their cars unattended while making stops at stores or houses.

It is also possible that a number of car thefts are actually people looking to commit insurance fraud due to the financial difficulties during COVID-19. In this instance, people are leaving their spare keys in their vehicle, perhaps tempting criminals to steal the cars, which would allow for an insurance claim that would pocket the “victim” thousands of dollars.

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Motor Vehicle Theft Trends Across America

When it comes to national car theft trends, there are a few that stick out compared to the statistics for the worst 15 states. The following graph shows the number of stolen vehicles for all states and Washington, D.C. from 2014 to 2018.

The darker the state is purple, the more stolen vehicles the state had from 2014 to 2018 compared to other states. Leading off are the three states with the highest number of registered vehicles as well: California, Texas, and Florida.

Hover your cursor over the state if you’re on a laptop or desktop computer or press your finger down on a state if you’re on a mobile device to see each state’s specific statistics, including theft rate, theft rate compared to the nationwide average, and the number of average registered vehicles in that state.

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The average number of vehicle thefts for all states from 2014 to 2018 is 72,231. The average number of car robberies is top-heavy, meaning that the states above 72,231 disproportionately affect the average number. Fourteen states are above 72,231, while 36 states and the District of Columbia are below that average number.

States with at least 100,000 vehicle thefts from 2014 to 2018 (five-year total):

  • California: 823,203
  • Texas: 342,945
  • Florida: 210,454
  • Washington: 146,273
  • Georgia: 131,160

The number of vehicle thefts nationwide grew by 9 percent between 2014 and 2018. There were only 13 states and D.C. that declined in the number of car robberies for that period. In six of those states and Washington, D.C., the number of thefts declined by 10 percent or more.

Areas with a vehicle theft decline by at least 10% (2014 vs 2018):

  • District of Columbia: -32%
  • Massachusetts: -20%
  • Michigan: -18%
  • New York: -17%
  • Rhode Island: -17%
  • Wisconsin: -13%
  • Washington: -10%

Nationwide, there was an average of 275 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles from 2014 to 2018. There were 13 states and D.C. above the average vehicles stolen annually nationwide while 37 states below it. The five states with the lowest stolen vehicles per 100,000 registered vehicles all had ratios 106 thefts or lower.

2014-2018 stolen vehicle annual average for the five BEST states (% difference from nationwide):

  • Vermont: 37 (-87%)
  • New Hampshire: 67 (-76%)
  • Maine: 70 (-74%)
  • Wyoming: 87 (-68%)
  • Idaho: 106 (-61%)

In comparison, the five states with the highest average number of vehicle thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles had theft rates at least 51 percent higher than the nationwide average.

2014-2018 stolen vehicle annual average for the five WORST states (% difference from nationwide):

  • District of Columbia: 898 (+226%)
  • California: 548 (+99%)
  • New Mexico: 531 (+93%)
  • Nevada: 498 (+81%)
  • Washington: 423 (+54%)

In many cases, the states with the lowest number of registered vehicles had the lowest theft rates as well. The states with the highest number of registered vehicles were concentrated in the top of the ranking.

An interesting exception to that pattern is New York, which ranked 15th in the number of vehicles stolen from 2014 to 2018 but was 42nd in car theft rate per 100,000 registered vehicles.

Vehicle Theft Statistics for All States

In the following table, check out the ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their car theft rate. It is in descending order: The worst state/district is at the top, and the best state is at the bottom.

All 50 States + D.C. Theft Rates vs. National Average 2014-2018
RankState# Stolen Every 100k VehiclesDifference from U.S. Avg. (+/-)Percent Difference from U.S. Average
1District of Columbia898+623+227%
2California548+273+99%
3New Mexico531+256+93%
4Nevada498+223+81%
5Washington423+148+54%
6Hawaii410+135+49%
7Alaska376+101+37%
8Utah373+98+36%
9Colorado359+84+31%
10Oregon355+80+29%
11Oklahoma332+57+21%
12Missouri326+51+19%
13South Carolina320+45+16%
14Arizona316+41+15%
15Georgia316+41+15%
16Texas315+40+15%
17Maryland305+30+11%
18Tennessee280+5+2%
19Kansas276+10%
20Louisiana269-6-2%
21Florida255-20-7%
22Connecticut240-35-13%
23Indiana238-37-13%
24Nebraska237-38-14%
25Arkansas235-40-15%
26Michigan226-49-18%
27Alabama219-56-21%
28Mississippi213-62-23%
29Kentucky210-65-24%
30New Jersey188-87-32%
31North Carolina188-87-32%
32North Dakota187-88-32%
33Illinois181-94-34%
34Rhode Island180-95-35%
35Ohio178-97-35%
36Wisconsin177-98-36%
37Minnesota168-107-39%
38Massachusetts153-122-45%
39West Virginia147-128-46%
40Montana144-131-48%
41Delaware139-136-50%
42New York131-144-52%
43Iowa129-146-53%
44Virginia126-149-54%
45Pennsylvania121-154-56%
46South Dakota112-163-59%
47Idaho106-169-62%
48Wyoming87-188-68%
49Maine70-205-74%
50New Hampshire67-208-76%
51Vermont37-238-87%
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As you can see, the states differ widely in terms of the vehicle theft rate per 100,000 registered vehicles in that state; the difference in that rate (+/-) versus the average nationwide rate; and the difference in percentage between those two same factors.

The following chart shows the relative difference between states based on their car robbery rate, averaged per year from 2014 to 2018. The darker the purple, the higher the state’s vehicle robberies rate per year. Like with the other graph, hover your cursor over a state or press down on one with your finger to see the state’s specific statistics.

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The region with the most concentrated worst states for car theft is the West with eight states in the worst 15 states overall. That includes four states in the worst five states overall.

If you’re interested in learning about how to protect your car from being stolen, so you aren’t a number in the carjacking statistics by state, our guide about how to protect your car from theft covers numerous ways of keeping your car safe from thieves

One insurance discount you can receive for making your car harder to steal is the VIN etching discount, where your VIN number is etched into the metal of your car. This makes it easy for police to spot.

To find out more, check out our article about the VIN etching discount.

A common question people have about insurance policies that reimburse you if your vehicle is stolen is, “Are specific parts of my vehicle insured if my car is damaged or stolen?”

For instance, a person might ask if their stolen rims and tires are covered by insurance. This depends on the specific language in your comprehensive car insurance policy. If you have questions, you can talk to your insurance company about which parts are covered or look at the language in your policy yourself.

The only insurance coverage that will protect you financially if your vehicle is stolen is comprehensive car insurance. We cover this in our article: Does insurance cover if my vehicle is stolen?

It generally doesn’t cost as much as collision and liability insurance but can protect you from numerous events that damage your car such as vehicle robbery, weather damage, riot damage, and hitting an animal.

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Personal Stories & Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft

Now, let’s get to the experts’ opinions about car theft as they explain why theft occurs — and what you could do to prevent becoming a victim.

Experts from all around the United States

What are some of the factors that thieves look for when searching for a vehicle to steal?

“Some vehicle models are more common theft targets than others. For example, a Honda Civic is about four times more likely to be stolen than a Ford Focus. This is because Honda Civics is a more popular car, and many car thieves are planning to drive the stolen car to what’s called a ‘chop shop’ where the vehicle is completely disassembled and then sold for parts.

There is a bigger market for Honda Civic parts since the car is so popular, which makes them targets for car thieves.

So if a thief is looking for a target on a particular block and he sees a Ford Focus, a Nissan Sentra, and a Honda Civic, chances are he’s going to be most interested in the Civic.”

What are some tips you can give for people to prevent their vehicle from being stolen?

“One tip to help avoid getting your car stolen is to park indoors or in well-lit areas. Obviously, if your home has a garage, a car parked inside is far less likely to be stolen than one just a few feet away in your driveway. But for city-dwellers and apartment renters that do not have a garage, parking under a streetlamp is the next best thing.

A car left alone in the middle of the block in relative darkness is far more desirable to a thief than the same car at the end of the block (next to a busy street) or parked in the warm glow of a streetlight.”

Do you think paying the extra money for anti-theft devices is worth it?

“Anti-theft devices are a gamble. Many modern alarm and GPS tracking systems can be quite costly. And while the technology has advanced over the years, so have the car thieves that are still out there.

On the plus side, if you successfully prevent theft or recover a stolen vehicle even once, you will have gotten your money’s worth. Additionally, some insurance providers will offer discounts for vehicles with anti-theft devices installed.”

Jake McKenzie Auto Accessories GarageJake McKenzie is the content manager at Auto Accessories Garage.
This family-owned business sells automotive parts and accessories.


“When it comes to commonalities among car robberies, think of it like ‘Gone in 60 Seconds.’ It’s usually junkers and beat-up cars that are stolen as they’re less likely to have LoJack or other tracking and disabling systems.

Modern luxury cars in wealthy suburbs are more likely to be equipped with a system that allows for tracking or remote disabling of the engine than a mid-90s-era vehicle in a working-class neighborhood, and car thieves are aware of this.

Typically, your Range Rover in Chevy Chase, Maryland is safe. Not to say that doesn’t happen, but it’s a little rarer. I’d be more concerned about break-ins and carjacking as the fear created by the latter can cause situational mental paralysis for the unprepared.

Thieves aren’t dumb, usually. They slip up, but dumb ones go to prison quickly. They’ll survey an area, see who’s lackadaisical, see who parks on the street and maybe even leaves it unlocked, see who doesn’t close the gate or garage.

And, as I said above, they’ll steal cars that are less likely to have tracking and disabling devices. They’ll also do it in areas with a lower police presence, or a proportionally lower one with an overworked department.

Safety measures include getting a LoJack or similar device, keeping your car clean (inside and out) as it shows you’re someone who is conscientious about your property. Parking behind a gate or in your garage, and ensure those systems are employed properly (locked, electronic as opposed to manual) can reduce the chances of a thief stealing your vehicle.

Your safety is your responsibility; everything else is a mitigation strategy and post-facto enforcement issue. So that means forming neighborhood watches and staying on top of crime trends and working with your liaison officers and deputies.

Remember, overwhelmingly the cops come when called. They aren’t usually there to stop it in progress because they see it happening on the street. Car thieves will ensure they are alone.

In West Hollywood, CA, car thefts are trending down — almost half of what they were in 2016. However, that’s largely due to the pandemic, as people are home to monitor their vehicles, as opposed to leaving them in large parking lots at strip malls for several hours during the day, or being out on the town while they’re parked at home.”

Charlie Jasper - C&C Security Consultants, IncCharlie Jasper is the president and founder of C&C Security Consultants, Inc.
By addressing clients’ vulnerabilities, they help them capitalize on their strengths.


What are some of the factors that thieves look for when searching for a vehicle to steal? And, what sort of safety measures can a person take to decrease the possibility of their vehicle being stolen?

“This may be an unpopular opinion, but the best way to prevent any theft is to proactively protect yourself and your property. While criminals would not exist in an ideal world, the fact is they do. Therefore the best way we can protect our own property is to be proactive in doing so.

Here’s the deal: Most crimes could be defined as “crimes of opportunity.” For example, in ‘Opportunity Makes the Thief: Practical theory for crime prevention,’ a study published in 1998, the researchers defined the four main influences of a crime as VIVA: Value, Inertia, Visibility, and Access. Visibility and access are two major factors in a crime such as theft.

Step one to preventing theft is reducing the visibility of the property you want to protect. If possible, park your car in a garage, or in a less trafficked area. Also be certain to leave the belongings in your car out of sight.

Step two to keeping your car from being stolen is reducing access to the vehicle. Don’t leave your car unlocked, and never leave your keys in the car, especially if it is running.

And three, this one is from personal experience, never let someone you barely know to borrow your car. As the old saying goes, out of sight out of mind.”

Do you have a personal vehicle theft story or one from someone you know that you can relate?

“One time someone I knew asked if they could borrow my car. Although I did not know him that well, I let him, as he had done a favor for me before. The next day I get a call back with some excuse about how the car ran out of oil (it certainly had not).

The thief said after borrowing my car that the engine seized up, and no matter how many times I asked to see it, he was full of excuses. I knew he was lying, and I never saw my car again.

He found a good victim as at the time I was ‘going through a phase’ and really didn’t care. I certainly should have done more to pursue charges looking back.

The car itself was not insured. I only had liability, so making an insurance claim on the car was not an option to my knowledge.”

Douglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of HealingLaw.com. Healing Law is an organization dedicated to making law accessible for all.Douglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of HealingLaw.com.
Healing Law is an organization dedicated to making law accessible for all.
 


Is there a certain personality type or life circumstance that is frequently associated with car theft?

“There is no set personality type or life circumstance that defines an individual as a car thief. Vehicle robbery occurs in a variety of diverse socioeconomic types of neighborhoods, and car thieves come from all different walks of life.

The unlawful act of stealing a car may be for a variety of different motivations. A car thief might steal a car for the mere thrill of stealing a car such as a ‘joy ride’ as they are frequently known.

Some car thieves steal cars as a crime of opportunity when keys are left running in the engine.

Still yet other thieves might steal a car for a specific purpose such as the immediate need for transportation or to sell the car for money. There are no predestined characteristics that make a person into an unlawful person. People choose or choose not to follow the law.”

What are some of the factors that thieves look for when searching for a vehicle to steal?

“Car thieves oftentimes take advantage of an opportunity when searching for a car to steal. A car thief might look for a person that leaves their car running with the keys in the ignition as many car owners like to heat up their car on cold winter days.

Car thieves are more likely to steal cars in dark and secluded areas. A car that is parked in a house driveway is much less likely to be stolen because the thief is more visible and likely to attract attention.”

What sort of safety measures can a person take to decrease the possibility of their vehicle being stolen?

“A person that does not want their car stolen should be careful to make sure all their windows are fully locked. Thieves have burglary tools that allow them to open the car more easily when the windows are down even a tiny bit.

Car owners should protect their car with an alarm system. If a car is parked in a regular location such as a driveway or parking garage it is a good idea to set up a security camera and light fixture that is activated by a motion detector.”

What kind of policies should communities, municipal, or local governments implement to reduce vehicle thefts?

“Communities and local governments can reduce vehicle theft by implementing programs that deter car theft and rehabilitate criminals. A neighborhood watch patrol is an effective way to deter car thieves.

A rehabilitation program for criminals with prior drug convictions is likely to lead to a lowering of stolen vehicles since many car thefts occur by addicts that are stealing cars in order to acquire money to feed their addiction.”

Is vehicle theft a big problem where you live?

“Most car robberies in the local community by me in New York is for the purpose of stealing car parts. It is not uncommon to see hubcaps or tires stolen from vehicles.

These cars are easy to identify because the car thieves rest the vehicle on cinder blocks while they remove all the tires. High-end luxury cars such as Jeep, BMW, and Lexus are oftentimes targets of such theft.”

Do you have a personal vehicle theft story or one from someone you know that you can relate?

“In my neighborhood in New York City delivery persons have complained about their cars being stolen when they make deliveries. It is not uncommon for a delivery person to leave the keys in their engine while delivering food.

Car thieves are known to track delivery people and take advantage of the split-second opportunity when the delivery person temporarily exits their vehicle for a short period to deliver their food.”

David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com. David is a licensed accident attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
David is a licensed accident attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.

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COVID-19 and Its Effect on Vehicle Theft

In the end, while the number of vehicle thefts grew in some states and declined in others, the total number of thefts rose by 9 percent nationwide between 2014 and 2018.

Although vehicle thefts have fallen considerably since the mid-1990s, it might be making a comeback not just in this sample period between 2014 and 2018 but in 2019 and 2020.

Vehicle thefts in many cities have risen during the coronavirus pandemic, as cars were left on the street or in driveways for long periods during quarantines.

Many police departments, to combat vehicle thefts in general, have created task forces specifically to decrease car robberies, educate the public, and create awareness pm reducing the number of people becoming victims of this crime.

To protect yourself from vehicle theft, you would need to purchase comprehensive car insurance.

You might save more money when you purchase comprehensive car insurance even with the rate hike if your car were to be stolen.

Another route to go is to add anti-theft devices like LoJack or VIN etching. For these, your insurance company may offer you an anti-theft discount which could save you money on your rate as well as deterring from stealing your vehicle.

Additionally, you can purchase third-party theft car insurance coverage, which often has higher limits than other types of coverages. While it may cost a little more as well, it can protect you significantly financially if your car is stolen.

As far as specific devices, you can purchase a tracker for your car. If your car is stolen, you can tell where it is immediately and alert the police. This device can get you a vehicle recovery discount, which can reduce your comprehensive car insurance rate by up to $36.

For information about how thieves steal cars, check out our article: Learning How Your Car Is Stolen.

Frequently Asked Questions: Anti Theft & Targeted Models

Now that we’ve covered the 15 worst states for motor vehicle theft and the nationwide trends in car robbery for all states, let’s get to your frequently asked questions. They cover everything from the easiest car to steal to the best anti-theft device to prevent your car from being stolen and include some vehicle robberies statistics from 2019.

#1 – What is the No. 1 stolen car in America?

In 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Ford pickups were the most stolen vehicle with nearly 40,000 taken. Honda had three cars on the list — the Civic, Accord, and CR-V (ranked second, fourth, and 10th, respectively).

The only company with more than one car on the list, after Honda, is Toyota with the Camry and Corolla placing fifth and seventh with a combined nearly 28,000 stolen.

#2 – What’s the easiest car to steal?

Although the car stolen the most varies from year to year, there are a few vehicles that appear frequently in the top 10 lists every year for vehicles stolen. The Ford F series, especially older models, are stolen often. The Honda Civic and Accord, models dating back all the way to the 1990s, are stolen frequently.

#3 – Are keyless start cars harder to steal?

Keyless start cars might seem harder to steal, but thieves can steal them quickly if the owner forgets to turn off their fob when they are at home. Thieves can pick up the signal using equipment and drive away with the car very quickly. But if the owner turns off their fob, the cars are very difficult to steal.

#4 – What’s the best anti-theft device for a car?

While there are a number of great anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks or LoJacks, one that is considered among the best devices is a GPS tracker that alerts you or the police as to the vehicle’s position after it is stolen. Installing this in your car can also lead to a discount with your insurance company.

#5 – Where do stolen cars usually end up?

Though there are instances when a thief just wants to joyride in the car and police find it abandoned later, many stolen cars end up in chop shops where vehicles are stripped of their parts, later to be resold at below market prices.

#6 – Which Hondas get stolen the most?

The Honda Civic and Accord are two models that frequently appear on the top 10 lists of stolen cars in America. The reason is that the parts of those two cars are still in demand, and the older models of these cars, often going back to the 1990s, lack theft-prevention technology. They are notoriously easy to hotwire, which makes them easy targets for thieves.

#7 – Which state has the highest motor vehicle theft rate?

In our study, the state with the highest motor vehicle theft rate was Washington, D.C., which had 888 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles in the District. Overall, 15,200 vehicles were stolen between 2014 and 2018 in D.C.

#8 – What US city has the most car thefts?

The city with the most car thefts varies from year to year but there are a couple that always seem to pop up in the top 10. Two of those are Anchorage, Alaska, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. They routinely see hundreds of vehicle thefts per capita every year.

#9 – What are the top five most-stolen cars?

The top five most-stolen cars in 2018 were the Honda Civic (38,426 stolen), the Honda Accord (36,815 stolen), the Ford Pickup (36,355 stolen), the Chevrolet Pickup (31,566 stolen), and the Toyota Camry (16,906 stolen).

#10 – What is the most popular car to steal?

Car theft rates by model show that the most popular car to steal is the Honda Civic, particularly the models around 1999 or early 2000s. These cars are notoriously easy to steal even with basic theft devices like a shaved key or even by hotwiring the car. These models lack the anti-theft technology present in later models.

Combining that with the fact that the Honda Civic parts are reused frequently model to model, which makes them popular on the black market, thieves target the Honda Civic in order to make some money as well.

#11 – What are the hardest cars to steal?

The cars that are the hardest to steal generally fall into one of two categories: They have great anti-theft technology or they are built like fortresses and are incredibly difficult to penetrate.

In the first category, there are cars that literally won’t start unless the keys are within a certain range, just to name one anti-theft technology. In the second category, there are cars that are bulletproof or can survive a grenade blast. So they are very tough to enter.

#12 – What color car looks most expensive?

Red is the most expensive color for a car, often driving up the cost of a car by a few hundred dollars. It is also the color that attracts the most attention in the street, for both passersby and cops.

#13 – What color car gets stolen the most?

According to studies, thieves steal silver cars the most, though there was a recent study that claimed green cars were stolen the most.

#14 – What is the safest car color?

White is the safest car color, though there is uncertainty as to why this is the case. White cars do stand out in situations where driving is a little more perilous, such as at night, during the dawn, or during the dusk. Because it has this visibility and contrasts with the environment, it is easier to see and therefore less likely to be involved in an accident.

Methodology: Determining the Worst States for Vehicle Theft

In this study, we used primarily two sources of data, one for the number of stolen vehicles per state between 2014 and 2018 and one for the number of registered vehicles in a state during that 5-year period:

We then used a ratio between the two to determine the number of thefts per number of 100,000 registered vehicles after calculating totals for the entire 5-year period: all stolen vehicles in Alabama between 2014 and 2018 divided by the number of registered vehicles in that state for the same time frame.

From that, we created our ranking with the states or districts that had the highest rates on top and those with the lowest on the bottom, as well as calculating the average for all states, which we used to compare relative theft rates between each state and the nationwide average.

We’ve mentioned that in order to be compensated if your vehicle is stolen, you’ll need comprehensive car insurance. Plug your ZIP code into our free online quote generator to find the best comprehensive or other car insurance coverage rate personalized for you, your budget, and your insurance needs.

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Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State
Vehicle Theft Totals by State
Vehicle Theft Rates by State
Vehicle Theft Totals by State
Vehicle Theft Rates by State