Home Car Theft Statistics Auto Owners Must Know in 2020

Car Theft Statistics Auto Owners Must Know in 2020

by Tony Arevalo

Whenever you hear of a colleague or neighbor’s car getting stolen, somehow it never occurs to you that the very same thing could happen to yourself. The fact of the matter is, the possibility of your own car getting stolen is very real.

Car theft statistics reveal that many factors such as your locale, the state you live in, and even the kind of car you drive all play a factor in how high a chance for vehicle theft is. Even the time of year plays a role. Read on to discover the fascinating data on when, where, and how vehicle thefts go down in the United States.

Quick Facts About Car Theft in the US

  • California has the highest motor vehicle theft rate in the United States.
  • Car thefts have increased in America in recent years.
  • California houses the most cities where car theft has the highest prevalence.
  • Albuquerque in New Mexico is the city with the highest stolen car reports across the nation.
  • The Honda Civic is the most stolen vehicle as of 2018.
  • The 2000 model of Honda Civic, in particular, appears to attract car thieves the most.
  • Thefts due to keys being left in the car are on the rise according to auto theft statistics in the US.
  • Comprehensive car insurance may help cover the loss of a vehicle through theft.
  • Currently, 209 vehicle thefts happen daily because the owner left the keys inside.
  • California has the highest number of incidents of theft due to keys being left in the car.
  • Stolen and recovered vehicles sometimes receive a stolen and salvaged title.
  • The state where theft rates are the lowest is Vermont.

People Also Ask

Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Motor vehicle theft coverage is dependent on the owner’s type of insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage will help pay for losses when a car is stolen, while Limited Liability coverage will not.

With comprehensive coverage, you can get refunded the depreciated value of your car (minus your deductible), get stolen parts replaced, or have any damage from theft or break-in repaired. What it won’t do, however, is replace or reimburse you for stolen personal belongings.

How Many Cars Are Stolen Each Year?

Based on annual car theft statistics from 2007 to 2016, an average of 1,774,208 cars are stolen per year. On the other hand, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau The daily average is 156 stolen vehicles. Broken down even further, this translates to one auto theft incident every 6.5 minutes.

What Percentage of Stolen Cars are Recovered?

In 2017, the most recent data showed that the stolen car recovery rate nationwide is 59.1% for vehicles that were stolen locally. This is far better than the overall recovery rate for all stolen property in the United States, which is at 29.2%.

What City in the US Has the Highest Rate of Car Theft?

Albuquerque, New Mexico takes the cake as the city with the highest incidence rate of thefts. 2018 data show that there were a total of 7,146 vehicles stolen in the city. And the most popular model targeted by thieves is the full-size Chevrolet Pickup.

Motor Vehicle Theft Statistics by Year

  • 2016: 765,484 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2015: 707,758 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2014: 689,627 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2013: 699,594 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2012: 721,053 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2011: 715,373 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2010: 737,142 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2009: 795,652 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2008: 958,629 vehicle thefts reported
  • 2007:1,095,769 vehicle thefts reported
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report, car theft statistics were on a downward trend from 2007 through 2011. Recently, however, there has been a rise in auto theft across the nation. 2016 through 2017 saw a 4.1% increase.

Worst States & Cities For Auto Theft

According to nationwide statistics, the worst city for auto theft is Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has the highest number of auto thefts per capita based on the most recent data. In 2017, the vehicle theft rate was at 1096.8 per 100,000 residents. There were a grand total of 9,989 vehicles stolen that year. In the same city, the following year, we saw a 27% decrease in thefts as the vehicle theft rate went down to 780 per 100,000 residents.  Below is a full list of the cities with the highest auto thefts per their respective state. We’ve ranked them in order of theft rates. The data is based on information from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  

Car Theft Rates by City

  • #1 Albuquerque, New Mexico: 1096.8 per 100,000 residents
  • #2 Anchorage, Alaska: 816.7 per 100,000 residents
  • #3 Pueblo, Colorado: 812.7 per 100,000 residents
  • #4 Redding, California: 751.4 per 100,000 residents
  • #5 St. Joseph, Missouri: 750.0 per 100,000 residents
  • #6 Bakersfield, California: 734.5 per 100,000 residents
  • #7 Modesto, California: 706.3 per 100,000 residents
  • #8 Stockton-Lodi, California: 613.7 per 100,000 residents
  • #9 Yuba City, California: 604.6 per 100,000 residents
  • #10 Springfield, Missouri: 580.9 per 100,000 residents

Auto Theft Rates by State

One would expect California to be the state with the highest rate of vehicle theft since five out of 10 cities in the previous top 10 list are from the Golden State. That top spot, however, is held by Alaska. Anchorage had a total of 3,274 stolen vehicles in 2017. Similar to Albuquerque, the vehicle of choice by auto thieves was also the full-size Chevy Pickup. As of 2018 though, the Anchorage police reported a 5% decrease in car thefts, which is the lowest it’s been in more than two years. Meanwhile, arrests for vehicle thefts rose in the same year, and the stolen car recovery rate in the city has steadily stayed within an average of 92% and 95%.
  • #1 Alaska: 575.6 per 100,000 residents
  • #2 New Mexico: 563.8 per 100,000 residents
  • #3 Nevada: 427.3 per 100,000 residents
  • #4 California: 425.9 per 100,000 residents
  • #5 Oregon: 413.7 per 100,000 residents
  • #6 Colorado: 389.9 per 100,000 residents
  • #7 Washington: 388.8 per 100,000 residents
  • #8 District of Columbia: 372.8 per 100,000 residents
  • #9 Hawaii: 369.1 per 100,000 residents
  • #10  Missouri: 325.9 per 100,000 residents

Car Theft Statistics by Model

In 2017, the most stolen vehicle was the Honda Civic. Specifically, the 1998 model of this car. Part of the reason this particular model was more targeted by car thieves is that it’s easier to steal it than its modern counterparts.  As a comparison, there were a total of 6,707 1998 Honda Civics stolen in 2017. On the other hand, only 388 of the 2017 model were stolen since the newer cars had anti-theft technology equipped, car burglary statistics show.
  • #1 Honda Civic: 45,062 total thefts
  • #2 Honda Accord: 43,764 total thefts
  • #3 Ford Pickup (Full Size): 35,105 total thefts
  • #4 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size): 30,058 total thefts
  • #5 Toyota Camry: 17, 278 total thefts
  • #6 Nissan Altima: 13,358 total thefts
  • #7 Toyota Corolla: 12,337 total thefts 
  • #8 Dodge Pickup (Full Size): 12,004 total thefts
  • #9 GMC Pickup (Full Size): 10,865 total thefts
  • #10 Chevrolet Impala: 9,487 total thefts.

Motor Vehicle Theft Statistics by Popular Days

  • #1 New Year’s Day: 2,469 stolen vehicles
  • #2 President’s Day: 2,312 stolen vehicles
  • #3 Halloween: 2,297 stolen vehicles
  • #4 Memorial Day: 2,290 stolen vehicles
  • #5 Labor Day: 2,180 stolen vehicles
  • #6 Valentine’s Day: 2,169 stolen vehicles
  • #7 Independence Day: 2,124 stolen vehicles
  • #8 New Year’s Eve: 1,962 stolen vehicles
  • #9 Christmas Eve: 2,054 stolen vehicles
  • #10 Thanksgiving: 1,777 stolen vehicles
  • #11 Christmas Day: 1,664 stolen vehicles

Additional Statistics on Vehicle Thefts


New Year’s Day is the holiday when the most car thefts happen based on 2017 carjacking statistics

There were 2,468 car thefts on New Year’s Day, according to the NICB. Second to this was President’s Day, with 2,312 reported thefts, while Halloween came in third with 2,297. In the past, the most car thefts also took place during Black Friday. There were 2,244 cars stolen in 2015.

California ranked first for the most holiday thefts in 2017

Data from NICB showed that there were 5,142 thefts in the state of California in 2017. This is much higher compared to other states as there is a sharp drop off as we go further down the list. Texas, coming in second for holiday instances of motor vehicle theft, only has a total 1,988 thefts. Standing at fourth place, Washington is down to 819 car thefts during holidays.

The most stolen car in the state of California is the Honda Civic

According to a news report by NBC, the topmost stolen vehicle in 2017 was the 1998 Honda Civic. The 1996 version came in second. Honda Accords are also high on the list. Over 50,000 Civics and more than 49,000 Accords were subject to car theft in 2016.

On average, car burglary statistics find that 209 cars are stolen daily because of keys or key fobs being left in the vehicle in the United States

In some cases, owners had left the car unlocked with the engine running. From 2016 through 2018, this resulted in a total of 229,339 thefts of cars and trucks. It is also an 88% increase in thefts due to carelessness since 2013.

California is the state with the highest number of thefts that result from the keys being left in the vehicle

Between 2013 and 2016, car theft rates due to owner recklessness were at an all time high. There were 31,185 vehicle thefts that took place in the Golden State because of keys being left inside the vehicle.  Florida ranks second, but at nearly half the amount of California’s total thefts at 17,300 stolen vehicles. When it comes to cities, Las Vegas takes the cake at 11,073 car thefts for this specific reason.

Miscellaneous Statistics for Car Owners


When purchasing a used car, the NICB recommends checking out the history of the vehicle using its VIN to avoid purchasing a car obtained through motor vehicle theft

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a car is usually 11-17 characters long. It may be found on the dashboard at the driver’s side, at the corner of the windshield. Other locations include documents such as insurance policies, insurance cards, and title and registration documents.

The NICB provides a free VIN checker

There are many other free options online. This particular one limits each user (per unique IP) to five searches within a 24-hour period. Running a search should reveal if a car was ever stolen and whether or not it was recovered.  It’ll also reveal if it has been assigned a salvaged or branded title by insurance companies affiliated with the NICB. Other reports offer more details but are typically run by paid services.

Stolen car statistics show that between 2001 and 2016, there have been over $36 million fraudulent transactions related to vehicle cloning

When owners fail to report crucial information on a vehicle, it makes the vehicle susceptible to this particular type of crime. Vehicle cloning occurs when a criminal steals an identical vehicle to the one the VIN belongs to and replaces the identical car’s VIN tag with the original’s. The cloned vehicle is then sold to a buyer with counterfeit or stolen documents.

A salvaged title doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle has been totaled in a collision

Motor vehicle theft isn’t the only thing that car buyers need to look out for when checking about a car. Flood damage, damage from hail, and damage from vandalism can also result in a salvaged title.  After theft recovery, if the vehicle is sold by the insurance company to a salvager, it may also be assigned a salvage title. (Depending on the state.) A similar title, the “junk title,” maybe be assigned to a vehicle that is deemed “non-repairable.” State mandate directs that such cars should either be scrapped or destroyed.

While purchasing salvage-title cars is possible, car insurance, loans, and resale for such cars are more difficult

Stolen car statistics reveal that even vehicles that are theft recovered may receive a salvaged title. Whether or not a car receives this title depends on how long the recovery has taken. That said, due to the higher risk of costs since the car has been badly damaged before, both banks and credit unions do not give car loans on salvage-title vehicles readily.

Does Living in an Area with a High Car Theft Rate Impact Your Insurance Rates?

The answer is, naturally, yes, but with a significant caveat. You have to actually purchase insurance that covers theft, i.e., comprehensive coverage. If you select this protection plan, the system will pull the theft-rate data based on your zip code and adjust the premium accordingly. However, comprehensive coverage is relatively inexpensive, and even if your area has a high theft rate, the impact won’t be substantial. If you want to check how insurers calculate premiums and what factors have the highest effect, take a look at our car insurance calculator. This page provides general guides on the risk-assessment strategies employed by major insurers, and you can also find a free car insurance quote tool there.


Car theft statistics may be on the rise, but the outlook isn’t bleak at all. Recovery rates for stolen vehicles are quite decent. In the case of auto theft occurring due to keys left in the vehicle, care and awareness go a long way when it comes to preventing such crimes of opportunity. The same applies for busy times of the year. The likelihood of your car being stolen lessens with every measure you take towards security such as installing and using car alarms, not leaving garage door openers inside the car, and avoiding leaving the car running and unattended.


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