Hot-wiring is out. Keyless is in. Thieves are now more innovative when stealing vehicles by changing the vehicle's identification number.
With over 1 million vehicles stolen in 2022, car thieves are going for gold. It accounted for a 7% increase from 2021, surpassing 1 million since 2008.
Whether you own a car or plan to buy one, read the full article about the reality of motor vehicle thefts today.
- California has the most stolen vehicles, with 202,685.
- The used car value rate shoots up to 35%.
- Car thefts in 30 major cities had a 59% increase from 2019 to 2022.
- Bakersfield, CA, had a 905.41 car theft rate per 100,000 people.
- The Chevrolet Silverado will be the most stolen car in 2023, with a 48% theft rate.
- 30% of car thefts target KIA and Hyundai in Washington, DC.
- Portland recovered 84% of stolen vehicles within 30 days.
- A global car theft operation identified 248,000 stolen vehicles in over 130 countries.
How Many Motor Vehicles Were Stolen in 2023?
Motor vehicle theft statistics are accelerating each year. Memphis reported 2,258 car thefts in 2023, or about 44 cars daily. Portland had 30 per day, and Washington, DC, had 611 in two months.
That's just for the first few months of 2023! If the car theft trends continue this year, they will likely exceed the reports from:
- 2022: 1,001,967
- 2021: 937,976
- 2020: 888,011
- 2019: 801,023
Learn more about this ongoing trend across borders in the following sections.
Car Theft Statistics By State
The car theft rate varies from state to state. It was 268.2 per 100,000 residents in the US in 2021, equivalent to over 932,000 thefts.
The statistics suggest that where you live matters. The top states for car theft, especially Western states sitting shotgun, might surprise you.
Know if you are at high risk in these most and least stolen vehicle states:
1. California has the most stolen vehicles, with 202,685.
(National Insurance Crime Bureau)
Motor vehicle thefts have increased by 25.1% since 2019. There were 1,001,967 stolen vehicles in 2022, meaning 1.9 car thefts happen every minute.
As California topped the list for vehicle thefts, it is also rampant in these states:
- Texas (105,015)
- Washington (46,939)
- Florida (45,973)
- Colorado (42,237)
- Illinois (38,649)
- Ohio (29,913)
- Missouri (29,345)
- New York (28,292)
- Georgia (26,529)
2. Vermont has the fewest stolen vehicles in the US.
In a year, Vermont accounted for 47.8 motor vehicle theft rates. It translated to 122 reports of stolen vehicles in 2020. But in 2021, it increased to 49% or 182 reports.
Despite this, Vermont continues its streak of being the least stolen vehicle state in the country.
3. The used car value rate shoots up to 35%.
A shortage of semiconductors was crucial for a car's air conditioning system, tire pressure, and airbags.
Automotive suppliers could not do much. With low inventory, used car values increased, contributing to increased car theft statistics.
4. New Mexico's stolen car rate is 427.2 per 100,000 people.
Of the 100,00 residents, New Mexico had the most stolen vehicles in the US. Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon followed.
Aside from Vermont, some states lucky to have fewer car thefts include Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.
Car Theft Statistics By City
Car theft is a global problem, but some areas with a larger population experience it more. Portland, for example, has more vehicle thefts than other cities of its size.
In 2022, Denver saw 15,267 vehicle thefts, 1,314 in Boston, and 40 per day in Memphis. Your likelihood of being a car theft victim increases if you live in metropolitan areas with a high crime rate.
Keep reading to find out!
5. Car thefts in 30 major cities had a 59% increase from 2019 to 2022.
(Council on Criminal Justice)
Stolen vehicles doubled in eight of the 30 cities and tripled in Memphis and Chicago. It was 37,560 higher in 2022 than the previous year.
Among the 30 cities were:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Washington, DC
6. Motor vehicle theft increased by 29% amid the pandemic.
(Council on Criminal Justice)
Car thefts increased from 3,000 in 2020 to 3,713 in 2022 across seven cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, Norfolk, and San Francisco.
In 2020, Americans suffered a $7.4 billion loss due to motor vehicle theft. The loss increased due to costs related to robberies, burglaries, and drive-by shootings.
7. Bakersfield, CA, had a 905.41 car theft rate per 100,000 people.
Bakersfield contributed to California's highest car theft statistics. The city had the highest theft rate in 2020.
Yuba City is second on the list with a 724.46 car theft rate. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Odessa, and San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley followed.
8. Los Angeles has had an all-time high car theft record since 2010.
All hell breaks loose as the largest city in California has its fair share of car thefts. Los Angeles reported 24,000 stolen vehicles in 2021, the highest number of car theft cases since 2010.
In just three months, stolen vehicles reached 6,946. It must be the worst year for LA, with a 13.7% increase from 2020 and 54.1% from 2019.
Car Theft Statistics By Model
Car theft can happen with low-cost or high-end vehicles. After Chevrolet, Ford came in second with 47,999 stolen vehicles. Full-size pickup trucks were the most targeted, up 8% from the previous year.
In 2023, the most stolen vehicles were the Kia Soul (129), Hyundai Elantra (113), Subaru Legacy (73), and Subaru Forester (69). Here are other statistics:
9. The 2004 Chevrolet Full Size Pickup was the most stolen vehicle in 2021.
High-value trucks are in demand on the market. Thieves have their eyes all set, waiting for the signal to steal and resell it or its parts. The 2004 Chevrolet pickup (full size) accounted for 48,206 thefts.
10. Honda Civic and Honda Accord are the second-most targeted vehicles by thieves.
If you can find more sedans parking on the streets, they are one of the most in-demand cars in the US. More cars mean more chances for thieves to steal.
The 2000 Honda Civic accounted for 31,673 thefts, while the Honda Accord had 30,274 recorded thefts.
11. With its practicality and affordability, the Toyota Camry comes hot on its heels.
(The Philadelphia Caller)
Stealing older models is no sweat for thieves, as they are less secure than brand-new cars. This model is also an easy target for thieves, as they can make easy money from its parts. The 2007 Toyota Camry accounted for 17,270 thefts.
12. The Chevrolet Silverado will be the most stolen car in 2023, with a 48% theft rate.
The US car market has constantly changed over the last two decades, but car thieves remain. Silverado is one of the most targeted cars to steal because of its popularity and abundant supply.
It has an easy start, making it more convenient for thieves. Even worse, this type of vehicle lacks anti-theft devices. Stolen Silverados accounted for 31,000 in 2021.
13. 30% of car thefts target KIA and Hyundai in Washington, DC.
(DC News Now)
There were 1,013 car thefts in the first few months of 2023, a 113% increase from last year. Law enforcers warned owners of Kias or Hyundais from 2011 to 2021 to watch out for their cars.
Of those reports, the daily average of stolen cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles was 18.
Statistics on How Many Stolen Cars Are Recovered
Car thefts continue to thrive in port and border cities. In Seattle, the car theft recovery rate was 86%. Most car thieves look for temporary transportation, and some steal cars for their parts. Thus, recovering the stolen vehicles takes a few weeks to a month.
With car theft statistics revving, 56% of Americans show little to no worry. Car owners have become complacent about car theft until it's too late. Here are the stolen car recovery statistics:
14. Law enforcement recovers 56% of stolen vehicles every year.
(Department of Transportation)
Of the 800,000 stolen vehicles in a year, law enforcement and concerned individuals found 448,000.
Recovery rates depend on the location, but there is a good chance that you'll get your car back. It's lucky for you if your stolen car is one of them.
15. Portland recovered 84% of stolen vehicles within 30 days.
Portland has high recovery rates. In 2023, it's up by 2% from the previous year (82%). When it comes to the annual recovery rate, it is 93% for 2022 and 88% so far this year.
Thanks to the doubled efforts of law enforcement, they conducted stolen vehicle operations for 18 months to locate the vehicles.
16. A global car theft operation identified 248,000 stolen vehicles in over 130 countries.
In just two weeks, the operation has led to the recovery of hundreds of stolen cars, trucks, and motorcycles. It uncovered 1,121 stolen cars and 64 motorcycles in 77 countries.
More than 130 countries shared their data with Interpol's Stolen Motor Vehicle database, resulting in over 280 million searches.
The Bottom Line
It is unsettling that motor vehicle theft continues to rise and shows no sign of slowing down. Car theft can happen to anyone, anywhere, and anytime.
All cars may not have the best security features, but theft prevention starts with informed car owners. Report your stolen car to the police and your insurer immediately to increase the chance of recovery.
More than a material possession, your vehicle is a product of your hard work and sacrifice.