The FBI reports there were an estimated 699,594 motor vehicle thefts nationwide in 2013. In 2012, a small increase in vehicle thefts ended a consecutive eight-year run of decreasing thefts. However, the 2013 data shows thefts are once again on the decline.
Auto theft is covered by the optional "comprehensive" coverage on your auto policy.
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.
According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 44 seconds.
A survey of American drivers conducted in April 2007 on behalf of the National Insurance Crime Bureau and LoJack, a manufacturer of an electronic vehicle tracking and recovery system, found:
- 79% always lock their vehicles.
- 93% never leave spare keys in their vehicle.
However, the survey also found:
- One-third admit they have left their car while it was running, which makes the vehicle an easy target for theft.
- 47% don't always park in a well-lit area.
- 40% don't hide their valuables. In fact, nearly half leave mail in their vehicle, a quarter have left a purse or wallet, and almost a third have left bank statements, all of which can put them at risk for identity theft.
Although 75% of respondents know that there are costs associated with vehicle theft in addition to paying the insurance deductible and the cost of replacing the vehicle that are not covered by insurance, virtually none knew that there are additional costs such as insurance premium increases, the cost of time spent dealing with police, vehicle rental costs, and the cost of time off from work. The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.
Most Popular Stolen Vehicles
Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in the United States in 2013 by Make and Model According to the NICB "Hot Wheels" Report:
||Make & Model
||Total Stolen in U.S.
||Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
||Ford Pickup (Full Size)
||Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
||Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
Click here for the most popular vehicles stolen in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Does It Matter Where I Live?
Living in urban and higher crime areas has an impact on your risk of being a victim of auto theft. Port and border cities continue to be boomtowns for the auto theft business. Of the top 25 metro areas in the nation for vehicle theft, nearly half are ports or communities with easy access to borders (*National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NICB). The NICB study compares the auto theft rates per 100,000 population in 380 metro areas.
The top 10 metro areas with highest auto theft rates in 2014:
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
- Bakersfield, California
- Stockton-Lodi, California
- Odessa, Texas
- Modesto, California
- Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington
- Vallejo-Fairfield, California
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
- Fresno, California
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
City-by-city differences in auto buying habits are reflected in the preferences of auto thieves. For example, American vehicles tend to be the auto thief's vehicles of choice in Detroit and Chicago; pickups are popular in Albuquerque, Phoenix and Houston; and Japanese models lead the most commonly stolen list in Los Angeles.
Reporting Auto Theft & Fraud
Report fraud and vehicle theft to your local law enforcement, as well as the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). Your call to NICB can be anonymous and you may be eligible for a reward.