Motor Theft Statistics & Facts (By State, Region, Holiday) 2022

Motor Thief Statistics(1)

Motor vehicle theft costs the U.S. billions of dollars in losses each year. Around $7.4 billion were lost due to vehicle theft in 2020 alone. Motor vehicle theft can be detrimental to most vehicle owners. This is because only comprehensive car insurance can cover a stolen vehicle.

The following analysis was created using different databases and sources. This includes the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Insurance Information Institute, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Table of context:

How Many Vehicles Are Stolen Each Year?

How Many Vehicles Are Stolen Each Year?

According to data released from the FBI, 2020 saw a spike in car theft rates. About 810,400 vehicles were stolen. This was 11.5% higher when compared to the 721,885 vehicles that were stolen in 2019. The methods used in stealing vehicles have changed a lot over the last few years. As technology advances, the way thieves steal vehicles has become more sophisticated.

Some methods require changing a car’s VIN or the usage of smart keys to succeed in a theft. A big factor that increases the chances of vehicle theft is vehicle negligence from the owner. Between 2017 and 2019 there were about 244,845 vehicles that were stolen only because the key fob of the vehicle was left inside it by the owner. This number has been on the rise when compared to the 230,000 vehicles stolen for this same reason from 2016 to 2018.

Below are some key points of motor thief statistics over the years:

  • Vehicle owners lose an average of $8,886 when their vehicle gets stolen
  • In 2019, the number of vehicle thefts was 219.9. per 100,000 residents.
  • Motor vehicle theft dropped 4% between 2018 and 2019.
  • Motor theft increased by 1.2% between 2015 to 2018 but dropped 2.4% from 2010 to 2015.
  • 74.5% of vehicles stolen in 2019 were cars.

Motor Thief Statistics Over The Years

Motor thief rates have dropped by 52% over the past two decades. In 1991, the number of stolen vehicles went over 1.5 million. This is less than the average 730,000 vehicles stolen annually in recent years.

The main reason why motor thief rates have been cut in half has to do with the advancement of technology that cars are built with today. This makes it more challenging for thieves to access and steal. Law enforcement has also increased its focus on vehicle theft to try to prevent it from happening.

The total number of vehicle theft in the U.S during each year

Year Vehicles Stolen Percent Change
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 751,904 -2.7%
2019 721,885 -4.0%
2020 810,400 11.8%

Motor Thief Statistics Over The Years

Motor Vehicle Thefts By State

Based on statistics, California is the state with the highest number of motor vehicle thefts in the nation. Vermont on the other hand resulted as the state with the least number of vehicles stolen.

When adjusted for inhabitants, California had 42.8 vehicle thefts per 10,000 residents, which is still 10 times higher than Vermont. Statistics show that population and vehicle ownership do not play a role in these numbers. In fact, Vermont has 97 registered vehicles per 100 people, which is more than California, which has 77 registered vehicles per 100 people.

State Vehicles stolen
California 168,323
Texas 84,276
Florida 38,271
Washington 30,452
Georgia 27,399
Colorado 25,506
Missouri 24,189
Tennessee 21,332
Illinois 21,098
Ohio 20,520
Arizona 20,077
North Carolina 19,656
Michigan 18,385
Oregon 17,937
South Carolina 16,585
Indiana 15,474
Oklahoma 15,435
New York 15,047
Alabama 14,718
Pennsylvania 14,146
Nevada 12,400
Maryland 11,497
Minnesota 10,926
Louisiana 10,853
New Jersey 10,556
Virginia 10,469
Kentucky 10,288
New Mexico 10,278
Arkansas 9,393
Wisconsin 9,006
Kansas 8,422
Utah 7,933
Massachusetts 7,229
Connecticut 6,835
Mississippi 6,235
Hawaii 6,083
Iowa 5,344
Nebraska 5,048
Alaska 2,676
West Virginia 2,315
Montana 2,271
North Dakota 2,074
South Dakota 1,969
Delaware 1,767
Idaho 1,665
Rhode Island 1,509
New Hampshire 1,044
Maine 964
Wyoming 862
Vermont 264

Motor Vehicle Thefts By State map
Motor Vehicle Thefts By State

Motor Vehicle Theft by Region

Motor theft can happen anywhere in the country, but chances remain higher in more populated areas. Metropolitan areas have the highest motor vehicle theft rates in the region when compared to the outer city and rural areas.

Motor Vehicle Theft by Region

Area type Estimated total Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
Metropolitan areas 662,121 234.5
Cities outside metropolitan areas 29,762 158.9
Non-metropolitan 30,002 110.5

Regions also impact motor vehicle rates. Since the Western and Southern regions have the highest crime rates overall, they also experience the highest rate of auto theft in the U.S. Areas such as the Northeast and the Midwest have shown to be the safest regions when it comes to vehicle theft and crime rates in general.

The statistics below show the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest numbers of auto theft in America:

Area Population Total Motor Vehicle Theft Rate per 100,000
Northeast 55,982,803 50,801 90.7
New England 14,845,063 50,801 103.5
Middle Atlantic 41,137,740 35,430 86.1
Midwest 68,329,004 129,542 189.6
East North Central 46,902,431 76,299 162.7
West North Central 21,426,573 53,243 248.5
South 125,580,448 280,447 223.3
South Atlantic 65,784,817 123,744 188.1
East South Central 19,176,181 47,700 248.7
West South Central 40,619,450 109,003 268.4
West 78,347,268 261,095 333.3
Mountain 24,854,998 71,880 289.2
Pacific 53,492,270 189,215 353.7

Holidays Ranked by the Number of Vehicle Thefts

The most popular holiday for car theft in 2020 was New Year’s Day, with a total of 2,320 motor vehicles stolen. According to statistics, the reason for this is because people are more likely to leave their cars in parking lots for prolonged hours on New Year’s Day. This makes it easier for thieves to take their time getting in the vehicle and driving off without getting caught.

Rank Holidays Number of thefts
1. New Year’s Day 2,320
2. Labor Day 2,222
3. President’s Day 2,204
4. New Year’s Eve 2,201
5. Halloween 2,191
6. Valentine’s Day 2,174
7. Memorial Day 2,162
8. Christmas Eve 2,011
9. Independence Day 1,995
10. Thanksgiving 1,683
11. Christmas Day 1,580

Holidays Ranked by the Number of Vehicle Thefts

Frequently Asked Questions on Motor Vehicle Theft

How often does motor theft occur?

A vehicle is stolen every 43.8 seconds in the U.S. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a vehicle was stolen every 36 seconds in 2020, which was the highest rate in the past 9 years.

Which is the most stolen car model?

The Ford Pickup was the car model that was the most likely to be stolen in 2020. In that same year, 44,014 Ford Pickups were stolen. Chevrolet Pickup holds second place with 40,968 cars stolen and Honda Civic holds third place with 34,144 cars stolen in 2020.

What color car is the least stolen?

Bold colors were the least likely to be stolen mainly because they are easily detectable. Cars with colors such as orange, red, and yellow are thought to be younger models with better security systems, which unmotivates the thieves to take risks.

Conclusion

The United States is ranked among the top nations for vehicle theft. Of course, this may not come as a surprise if you live in one of the top states for car thefts.

The numbers are quite startling in many cases, but they also tell us which vehicles are at the greatest risk of being stolen, and how we can protect them. It’s information that we can all use to help stop auto theft and make our country a safer place to drive.

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