10 Most Stolen Vehicles in America [2020 Results]
In just 3 years, there were 683,807 robberies where thieves took the 10 most stolen vehicles in America from their rightful owners. In 2018 alone, those 10 most stolen cars amounted to 218,492 robberies. Overall, pickup trucks were the most stolen vehicle type in over 25 states, and cars were the most stolen vehicles in more urbanized states.
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2021
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A Concise Overview
- The most stolen car between 2016 and 2018 was the Honda Civic, with 133,035 vehicles stolen
- The most stolen truck between 2016 and 2018 was the Ford Pickup (full size), at 104,181 vehicles stolen
- We found thieves target older models, with six older vehicles stolen more than newer in 2018
- Three manufacturers had multiple vehicles in the top 10: Honda, Chevy, and Toyota
When you’re at a car dealership searching for a car to buy, it’s unlikely you’re thinking about automotive theft. After all, it’s an exciting time — the prospect of a new car, its specifications, and the ability to drive anywhere you want to.
A car, especially in American culture, equals freedom. However, depending on the make and model of the car you buy, the higher chances of it being stolen. And that investment into that new set of wheels can cost you thousands of dollars.
In this article, we cover the most stolen vehicles in America from 2016 to 2018. Our three-year study of the vehicles most stolen crisscrosses the United States so that we include the most stolen cars in every area, from urban to rural, west to east, even standalone states like Hawaii and Alaska.
In the graphic above, you can see the most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018. As we’ll discuss, targets for thieves may include a certain type of vehicle depending on how much its parts are worth and how easy a vehicle it is to steal. The cars most likely to be broken into have commonalities.
So, how do you protect yourself financially if your car were to be stolen? Unless you own one of the least stolen cars in America, check out our comprehensive insurance article. It is this coverage that can keep you financially covered if your car is stolen.
If you’re looking for comprehensive auto insurance rates for one of the top stolen cars in America, use our free online quote comparison tool to find the best rates. We take the hassle of applying for quotes from multiple companies by giving you insurance quotes from auto insurance companies after submitting your information just once.
Comprehensive insurance is one of the main auto insurance coverages and is often bundled with liability insurance and collision insurance. Together, these three form full-coverage auto insurance.
Full auto insurance coverage means that you are protected from most incidents in which your car is damaged, including if you are in an accident, damaged in a riot, or stolen.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know which cars to avoid at the car dealership, how to keep your finances safe if your car is stolen, tools you can use to deter car thieves (vehicle theft protection). We’ll also cover the following topics:
- Car theft statistics in 2018
- Car theft statistics by year
- America’s most stolen vehicles (most commonly stolen cars)
- The chances of your car being stolen
- The legal meaning and examples of auto theft
Ready to learn about the cars most likely to be stolen? Let’s get started.
Most Popular Cars for Thieves
What are the most popular vehicles for thieves? The graphic below shows the three cars and three trucks most stolen in the United States between 2016 and 2018. Of these top three vehicles in each category, just one make is featured more than once: Honda.
The Honda Civic and Accord were the most stolen vehicles between 2016 and 2018, not just for the car category but overall. During that time, over 260,000 of those vehicles were stolen.
When it comes to the truck category, the Ford pickup truck was the most stolen with over 100,000 stolen between 2016 and 2018, for 4.6 percent of the overall vehicles stolen for that time period. We’ll get into why car thieves target the Honda models and the Ford pickup truck later on in the article. Let’s jump into the ranking of the most stolen cars in America.
#10 – Chevrolet Impala
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 19,236
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 0.84%
The Chevrolet Impala was the 10th most stolen vehicle from 2016 to 2018 with 19,236 stolen, accounting for 0.84 percent of the overall number of vehicles stolen.
Thieves targeted and stole the Chevrolet Impala the most in Illinois and Michigan. In Illinois, it ranked as the No. 1 car stolen in 2018, then as the No. 2 most stolen car in 2017 and 2016. In Michigan, it ranked as the No. 1 car stolen in 2017 and 2016.
#9 – GMC Pickup (Full Size)
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 22,573
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 0.99%
From 2016 to 2018, GMC pickups (full size) were the ninth-most stolen vehicle, accounting for 22,573 vehicles stolen, or 0.99 percent of the overall number of vehicle thefts.
Thieves targeted and stole GMC pickups more often in two states: Alaska and Maine. In both states, GMC pickups were ranked as the second-most vehicle stolen in 2018 and as the third-most vehicle stolen in 2017 and 2016.
The worst year for stolen GMC pickups (full size) was 2018 with 11,708 vehicles stolen.
It also bucks a trend: It is just one of four of our most stolen vehicles where the most stolen model year is relatively recent — in this case, 2018.
While the most stolen model year for four of our most stolen cars is 2017 or above, the most stolen model year for six of our remaining most stolen cars is 2006 or before. Trucks come in all shapes and sizes as well. To learn more about the evolution of pickup trucks, check out our article on the history of the pickup truck to see how this vehicle has evolved from the early 1900s to this day.
#8 – Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 35,358
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 1.55%
Coming in at No. 8 on this list of the most stolen vehicles between 2016 and 2018, the Dodge pickup (full size) was stolen 35,358 times or 1.55 percent of the total number of all vehicle thefts from 2016 to 2018.
Thieves targeted or stole the most Dodge pickups in rural states: Texas, Wyoming, Missouri, and Montana were four of the states where Dodge pickups ranked in the top five of vehicles most stolen.
2016 was the year where Dodge pickups were stolen the most nationwide: 12,128 times or 34.3 percent of the total number of Dodge pickups stolen from 2016 to 2018.
#7 – Toyota Corolla
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 36,714
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 1.61%
The Toyota Corolla comes in at No. 7 on this list of the most stolen vehicles between 2016 and 2018. It is the first Toyota vehicle in the top 10 of most stolen cars nationwide at 36,174 thefts or 1.61 percent of the overall number of cars stolen across the United States for that time period.
Departing from our prior three vehicles, the Toyota Corolla was generally not in the top three vehicles stolen for any state between 2016 and 2018. It was generally placed in the bottom five, but it was done so consistently.
The two states or districts where Corollas were stolen the most were the District of Columbia and Massachusetts. Maine was also in there, with Corollas placing in the top five of vehicles stolen for multiple years.
2018 was the worst year for the Toyota Corolla with 12,338 vehicles stolen or 34.7 percent of its three-year total. The average Toyota Corolla monthly full coverage auto insurance rate is $117 or just a little more than $1,400 per year. Fortunately, this rate can be lowered due to discounts such as adding an anti-theft device to deter thieves.
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#6 – Nissan Altima
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 38,863
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 1.70%
The Nissan Altima comes in at No. 6 on our list of the 10 most stolen vehicles from 2016 to 2018. With 38,863 vehicles stolen, the Altima makes up 1.7 percent of all vehicles stolen in America between 2016 and 2018. Unlike previous vehicles featured in this list, the Nissan Altima routinely appears in the top 5 most stolen vehicles year after year and state after state.
Thieves steal the most Nissan Altimas in Florida, where the car is ranked frequently in the top two of vehicles most stolen in that state.
The year that Nissan Altimas were stolen the most was in 2017 with 12,337 vehicles stolen or 34.4 percent of the 2016 to 2018 total.
#5 – Toyota Camry
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 50,916
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 2.23%
Ranked No. 5 on this list of the 10 most stolen cars in America between 2016 and 2018, the Toyota Camry was stolen 50,916 times from 2016 to 2018 or 2.23 percent of the overall number of cars stolen.
The models of Camrys stolen the most were the 2016 and 2017 models. There were a number of states where Camrys ranked in the top 3 of vehicles stolen year after year. These included Rhode Island, Virginia, and New York.
The year that thieves stole Camrys the most was in 2017 when 17,278 Camrys were stolen. This amounts to 34 percent of the total number of Camrys stolen between 2016 and 2018.
#4 – Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 92,862
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 4.06%
The Chevrolet pickup comes in at No. 4 on this list with 92,862 vehicles stolen between 2016 and 2018. This accounts for 4.06 percent of all vehicles stolen for that same time period.
The Chevrolet pickup was targeted and stolen the most in rural states like the two pickup trucks that were featured earlier in this ranking.
It ranks in the top three of most stolen cars for most states, and even the small size model of the Chevrolet pickup is featured in some of the rankings for individual states. 2018 was the worst year for the Chevrolet pickup with 31,556 vehicles stolen for 34 percent of the number of Chevrolet pickups stolen between 2016 and 2018.
#3 – Ford Pickup (Full Size)
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 104,181
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 4.56%
The Ford pickup (full size) comes in at No. 3 on this list as the first vehicle with over 100,000 stolen between 2016 and 2018. This number — 104,181 vehicles stolen — amounts to 4.56 percent of all vehicles stolen nationwide for the same time period.
Ford pickups were stolen more often in the South with states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana consistently having Ford pickups as the most car stolen year after year. Like the Chevrolet pickup, criminals targeted small size Ford pickups in addition to the full-size models.
The worst year for Ford pickups (full size) was 2018 with 36,355 vehicles stolen. This represents 34.9 percent of its total number stolen between 2016 and 2018. In general, the average monthly insurance rate for the F-150 is $110 per month or $1,322 per year.
Take a look at our guide on auto insurance for the Ford F-150 for average monthly auto insurance rates, coverage suggestions, pro tips, and much more.
#2 – Honda Accord
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 131,006
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 5.73%
Coming in at No. 2 on this list of the most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018, the Honda Accord is in second place by a long shot: 26,000 more thefts than our third most stolen car (the full-size Ford pickup), accounting for 5.73 percent of all cars stolen during that same time period.
As befitting of its No. 2 ranking, the Honda Accord very rarely drops out of the five most stolen cars list per state, and it’s very consistent in its ranking year after year. The states where the Honda Accord drops out of the five most stolen cars for that state are in predominantly Southern states: Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana, among others.
The number of vehicle thefts for the Honda Accord drops rapidly from 2016 to 2018, unlike many of the most stolen vehicles in this ranking.
Its best year is 2018 with 36,815 vehicle thefts compared to its worst year of 50,427. This is a 27 percent drop. The most common year model targeted is the 1997 model.
Why are Hondas among the most common vehicles stolen seemingly year after year? Let’s answer that while jumping into our most stolen car in the United States between 2016 and 2018. The average monthly insurance rate for the Honda Accord is similar to those listed for other vehicles above: $109 on average or $1,310 per year.
Our Honda Accord auto coverage insurance guide covers those rates and more, including the factors that influence what you pay for auto insurance and how big a financial penalty it is for major driving transgressions, such as an accident.
#1 – Honda Civic
- Times This Vehicle Was Stolen, 3-Yr Total: 133,035
- This Vehicle Portion of All Stolen Vehicles: 5.82%
The Honda Civic, which is often in the running for the most stolen car in America, comes in at No. 1 on this ranking. It was the most stolen car between 2016 and 2018 with 133,035 vehicles stolen, accounting for 5.82 percent of all cars stolen for that time period.
In general, it ranks in the top five most stolen cars for individual states, often flip-flopping with the Honda Accord for the number one spot. The worst year for the Honda Civic was 2016, in which 49,457 vehicles were stolen.
There was a 22.5 percent decline in the number of Honda Civics stolen from 2016 to 2018. The most common year models stolen are the 2000 and 1998 models.
Why does Honda occupy the top two spots in this list of the most stolen cars in America? It has to do with a couple of factors, including the demand for parts and the decreased anti-theft technology, which is why older Honda models are stolen the most.
As we outline in our guide to auto insurance for Hondas, the Honda Civic has the highest average monthly insurance rate of $80 or $953 per year compared to other major Honda car models. Now, let’s jump into the nationwide trends for stolen vehicles, including the differences between the most stolen cars in rural states versus those in more urbanized states.
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Most Stolen Vehicles by State
What are the most stolen vehicles by state? When we look at the most stolen vehicles from 2016 to 2018, we see a few trends worth noting. The first is that generally older cars are getting stolen. The following chart shows the most stolen cars in 2018, where we see the usual suspects plus one that is unusual and didn’t make our top 10.
|Rank||Make & Model||Model Yr Most Stolen||Total Model Thefts|
|1||Honda Civic||2000 (5,290)||38,426|
|2||Honda Accord||1997 (5,029)||36,815|
|3||Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2006 (3,173)||36,355|
|4||Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2004 (2,097)||31,566|
|5||Toyota Camry||2017 (1,144)||16,906|
|6||Nissan Altima||2017 (1,451)||13,284|
|7||Toyota Corolla||2017 (1,034)||12,388|
|8||GMC Pickup (Full Size)||2018 (1,170)||11,708|
|9||Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||2001 (1,155)||11,226|
|10||Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2000 (646)||9,818|
The Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee comes in at the No. 10 most vehicle stolen for 2018 with 9,818 vehicles stolen. The rest are fairly typical and place in the 10 most stolen cars from 2016 to 2018: trucks like the Ford pickup and cars like the Honda Civics and Accords.
In 2018, the most stolen car years were 2006 or before, while four were between 2017 and 2018. The next chart shows the 10 most stolen cars for 2017.
|Rank||Make & Model||Model Yr Most Stolen||Total Model Thefts|
|1||Honda Civic||1998 (6,707)||45,062|
|2||Honda Accord||1997 (6,301)||43,764|
|3||Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2006 (3,151)||35,105|
|4||Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2004 (1,970)||30,058|
|5||Toyota Camry||2017 (1,100)||17,278|
|6||Nissan Altima||2016 (1,450)||13,358|
|7||Toyota Corolla||2016 (1,012)||12,337|
|8||Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||2001 (1,242)||12,004|
|9||GMC Pickup (Full Size)||2017 (957)||10,865|
|10||Chevrolet Impala||2008 (991)||9,487|
In 2017, the 10 most stolen cars were represented in the 10 most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018. As is typical, the Honda Civic and Accord are at the top of the list, while the Ford pickup and then the Chevrolet pickup are a little bit behind.
Six car models are 2008 or before, while four models — three cars and one truck — were made between 2016 and earlier. The last chart we have here contains the same vehicle theft information but for 2016. It covers the 10 most stolen vehicles in 2016 and follows similar patterns compared to the 10 most stolen car lists in 2017 and 2018.
|Rank||Make & Model||Model Yr Most Stolen||Total Model Thefts|
|1||Honda Accord||1997 (7,527)||50,427|
|2||Honda Civic||1998 (7,578)||49,547|
|3||Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2006 (2,986)||32,721|
|4||Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2004 (2,107)||31,238|
|5||Toyota Camry||2016 (1,113)||16,732|
|6||Nissan Altima||2015 (1,673)||12,221|
|7||Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||2001 (1,288)||12,128|
|8||Toyota Corolla||2015 (1,070)||11,989|
|9||Chevrolet Impala||2008 (1,013)||9,749|
|10||Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2000 (898)||9,245|
Nine out of the 10 most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018 are featured on this list. The only one that jumps out is the Jeep Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee, which, like in 2018, appears on this list but not on the overall list of most stolen cars from 2016 to 2018.
Three of the car models most stolen were made in 2015 or older, while seven car models were made in 2008 or earlier.
There are three car manufacturers that appear on this list twice: Honda, Chevrolet, and Toyota. The following graph shows which cars were the most stolen per state in 2018.
The most stolen cars by state graph is color-coded, and you can see individual theft statistics by hovering your cursor over the state (if you’re on a laptop or desktop computer) or by pressing your finger down on a state (if you’re on mobile).
While there was a variance between individual state characteristics of the top stolen cars, thieves generally targeted pickup trucks in rural states versus targeting cars in more urbanized states.
Although, for instance, pickup trucks are the most stolen vehicle in over half of the states, in the heavily and more dense areas, cars like the Honda Civic were the most stolen. There are a couple of notes as well, which we’ll also cover in the experts section.
One of the prime reasons thieves target certain model cars more than others is simply business: Older model cars are easier to break into and steal compared to more technologically advanced cars.
And with the case of Hondas, their parts are still in demand, making them very profitable to steal. Thieves often steal cars with the intent of committing other crimes, making pickup trucks more appealing to steal as they can haul any kind of merchandise compared to a smaller car for instance.
We’ll cover these topics more in the experts’ section. First, let’s move to the conclusion section where we wrap things up and convey our final thoughts about the most stolen cars in the United States between 2016 and 2018.
Nationwide Vehicle Theft Trends from Our Study
When we started our search for the most stolen cars in America, we came across a few suspects that appeared over and over again. Brands like Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet were frequently in the top 10 along with older models like those made in 2006 and before.
The rationale was simple: Cars that were made before 2007 or later were tougher to steal and those cars that were easier to steal but had parts still in demand became the ones targeted the most. For people looking to break cars down and sell their parts looked at older Accords and Civics are easy targets — in other words, an easier payday.
The car stolen the most per state depended on one most noticeable factor: population density or geography. Pickup trucks were most stolen in rural states, while cars were most stolen in more urbanized states.
Therefore, even as pickup trucks ranked number one as the most stolen car in more states than cars, the Honda Accord and Civics were stolen more often, due to the relative population density in those states. In the end, most of the models reappeared frequently in the lists of most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018.
Thieves tend to steal the same model cars repeatedly year after year, in part because these cars are easier to steal and in part because their parts are still in-demand on the black market.
If you’re in one of these areas, learn how a vehicle theft could impact your insurance premiums, steps you can take to reduce the risk of your car being stolen, and general auto theft statistics in our guide about what to do if your car is stolen.
Let’s hear from the experts about their personal stories of auto theft, ways to thwart car thieves, and how their communities are banding together to reduce auto theft rates in their areas.
Preventing Car Theft Through Actionable Steps
Let’s get the takes of professionals around the world as to how you can keep your car safe, why thieves target certain types of vehicles, and how they steal them after they target them. We include one personal story about the stress of having your car stolen, and how social media played a role in getting that car back.
“Luxury cars tend to have good security. But in the event they’re stolen, they’re either sold quickly or the thieves are found. Thieves steal them because of the prestige they have and possessing cars like this is a huge social sign.”
Why are older model cars more targeted than newer models?
“Older models don’t usually have pre-installed security measures on them and tracking them when they’re stolen is difficult. Aside from that, a lot of older models are classified as classic cars or modern classic cars. The prestige of owning a classic car is well known and if you’re a thief and a car enthusiast, these are the types of cars you’d think about targeting.”
Why do thieves steal cars?
“Social clout is a huge factor these days. A lot of thieves tend to boast their thefts on social media, and in a lot of cases this leads to them being caught.”
Why is there a trend that car thieves are becoming younger, with even some pre-teens being prolific car thieves?
“From the perspective of an insurer, car thefts are becoming more common from pre-teens because they’re influenced by the ‘get rich quick’ schemes or they come from tough environments with no real structure to support them. As a result, they’re more likely to use their social media to obtain information on people they know they can make money from.”
Why is car theft considered a crime of opportunity?
“It’s a crime of opportunity because a lot of drivers don’t invest enough in securing the safety of their car. From an insurer’s perspective, an individual’s area plays a huge role in the premiums they get. If they come from an area that has high car thefts, the price of their premiums will be higher than areas that don’t have low crime rates.”
What can be done by governing bodies and police?
“With the power of social media, neighborhood groups have the ability to reach more people. Those heavily involved in these groups need to be active on their accounts to deter thieves from their neighborhood. Car thieves are actively using the information social media has on people stealing their cars.
In Wales, three boys used social media to steal over £580k [$700K USD)] worth of luxury vehicles. However, they boasted their ‘wins’ on social media and got caught. Local governments need to take more action on this issue.
Some residential areas in Newport, Wales don’t even have their street lights on. The South Wales Argus reported that since the start of 2020, thieves have become even more brazen, stealing catalytic converters in the early hours of the morning.”
Five Easy Steps to Prevent the Possibility of Car Theft
“Here are 5 steps the average person should take to reduce the possibility of their car being stolen
- Install telematics that can track your vehicle’s location at all times.
- Remove all your valuables from your car.
- Install a wheel lock on your steering wheel.
- Always lock your doors, even when you’re driving your car.
- Park in a well-lit area. This can apply to domestic or work-related journeys.”
A Living Nightmare
“This is everyone’s nightmare. A mutual friend of mine and his partner woke up to their belongings stolen at their house. When they surveyed any extra damages or theft, they stepped outside and found their car was stolen.
The thief left muddy footprints everywhere, so the forensics team was able to investigate the crime scene properly. Ten hours later, they managed to track the thieves and they were arrested on video.
They reported the crime straight away and did not tamper with any potential evidence, which helped lead law enforcement to the thieves. A strong catalyst to their car being found was social media.
A mass of people shared their stories to ensure the thief could be found. Luckily for them, they had a third party fire and theft insurance, which meant they were covered anyway if their vehicle got stolen.”
David Harlow is the CEO of Three Castles Cover.
He has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry.
“We are often approached by clients who are faced with the fact that their car has been stolen. Of course, we are interested in what kind of car they had before, and in most cases, it turns out that most of these people had very popular models at the moment and mostly sedans.
We find that sedans are commonly stolen because this car will be difficult to recognize in a large stream of the same cars and the demand for parts is very high.
Sometimes it turns out that the vehicle stolen was an older model, but usually, that happens because the owner did not want to install expensive alarms on it. Very rarely is the vehicle that was stolen a rare model or one that was painted in a bright color.
Also, thieves very rarely risk stealing a car from a parking lot with video surveillance or directly from the owner’s house. I believe that the young age of car thieves is due to the fact that the younger generation is more aware of how to use various gadgets.
The younger population can easily read a lot of information for free on the internet about new car alarms and how to hack them.
I am sure there are step-by-step tutorials for disarming alarms and breaking into various types of vehicles. As practice shows, near kindergartens and educational institutions, vehicle thefts are often committed in the morning (from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.).
Another common location is near retail and office buildings and at large trade enterprises in the daytime (during regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). And one of the most common places and times we see car robberies happen is near residential buildings in the middle of the night.
I believe that the most relevant ways to help protect a car from being opened or stolen are:
- Parking in gated or locked areas
- Parking where there’s video surveillance
- Using additional locks (gearbox blocker, steering wheel lock, pedal blocker, etc.)
- Installing GPS trackers
- Keeping keys in a protective case (ones that block signals)
- Using special tags (provides digital key)
- Installing two-way alarms (sends alerts at break-in attempts and enables the owner to remotely lock the engine)
All of these are very effective, but should only be done in addition to the driver investing in the most complete auto insurance because even the most protected car can be stolen.”
Serhii Sydorenko is a marketer and blog editor at Vehicle Approval Center.
VAC makes it possible to buy cars directly from your smartphone.
“I do not have personal experience in having my car stolen. However, I have a fair understanding of the types of vehicles thieves target thanks to my industry experience. People often believe that thieves will not target their less fancy or older car, but on the contrary, it is usually older vehicles that get targeted by thieves.
It is often easier to steal older vehicles because they lack anti-theft devices and are more profitable when they are sold for parts. Therefore, it may not be a terrible idea to engrave major parts and expensive car accessories with a personal identification number.
There are many other anti-theft options on the market, ranging from steering wheel locks, floorboard locks, ignition kill switches, gear shift locks, and wheel locks that all work very well to deter — or at least slow down — car thieves.
Vehicle tracking devices that help the police to quickly look for the stolen vehicle’s location are becoming increasingly popular as well due to advances in technology.
According to Car Safe’s Theft Watch most recent report, 37 percent of all car thefts in Australia are linked with keys being stolen in burglaries. Many people think that car robberies only take place in the middle of the night and when there is no one around, but that is simply not true. The hot-wiring you see in many movies and TV shows does still happen, but maybe not quite as often as 20 years ago.
Therefore, some people tend to downplay the risks of vehicle theft and don’t see it as the crime of opportunity that it really is. A common occurrence in my home country Mauritius in East Africa (and all too common in other countries around the world) is when a car is bumped from behind by another car for the purpose of getting the driver out of their car, in order to steal it. Often it turns out to be a ploy in isolated and poorly lit areas to get the driver out of their vehicle.
In such a circumstance, where someone hits your car, you should call 911 immediately while inside your vehicle instead of stepping out. Be very hesitant and cautious about getting out of your vehicle in these situations, especially in an area of low visibility or if it seems like the crash was on purpose. Keep in mind this is an all-to-common scam in many parts of the world.”
Pawena Kaniah writes about auto insurance for Budget Direct Insurance.
Insurance coverage for animal collisions is one of her areas of expertise.
“Here are some of the low hanging fruit for preventing car robberies:
- Remove valuables: All valuables that can be removed should be.
- Don’t attract unnecessary attention to your car.
- Lock it and block it: Lock your car, get a steering wheel lock, whatever to make it impossible to move or be towed.
- Insure against theft
- Park and store: Keep your vehicle in a secure area
The primary reason thieves steal vehicles is for money. These robberies can be drug-trade-related, for joyriding, or to strip it down and sell the parts. In most areas, pre-teens are not a major threat. Older teenagers are becoming more aggressive and professional when stealing cars.
Thieves often target specific vehicles because they have learned which ones they can ‘easily’ steal and resell for a decent profit due to their parts. To protect your vehicle from being stolen, you should do a combination of what is listed above, but where you live and work will make a huge difference.
Some communities do ‘security checks’ of parked and unattended vehicles. Just remember, you can reduce the probability your vehicle is stolen in the first place.
Lock your car up to prevent theft. This means don’t place keys anywhere they can be easily found and even putting a separate lock securing the vehicle (like a locked gate, for instance).
And, don’t ‘hide’ it. You want your vehicle to be less likely to be towed or transported away, so keep it in plain sight. From personal experience, we had an attempt at our car being stolen but thanks to it being in a secured area and thanks to our steering wheel lock, the car thief very quickly gave up.”
Jerry Wilson is the chief editor at Complete Auto Guide.
On his site, you’ll find parts reviews, car ratings, and repair advice.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Theft Hot Spots and Anti-Theft Tech
Now, we’ve covered the 10 most stolen cars between 2016 and 2018, along with some nationwide trends and what cars are most stolen per state. Let’s take a look at your frequently asked questions, including how to protect your car from being stolen.
#1 – What is car theft called?
Car theft, or grand theft auto in the United States, is the act of stealing or attempting to steal a vehicle. This crime is often categorized according to different acts and punishments. For instance, joyriding is often considered the smallest of offenses with the smallest penalty while carjacking is considered a more serious offense.
Offenses often escalate depending on the type of vehicle stolen as well, with the theft of more expensive vehicles often having more serious punishments compared to the theft of less expensive vehicles.
#2 – What state has the most auto thefts?
The state that has the most auto thefts is California, which repeatedly sees numerous entries into lists covering the states with the most auto thefts. Three areas that really stand out even as far as California general auto theft rates are the Oakland – San Francisco area, the San Bernardino area, and Los Angeles.
#3 – What city has the highest auto theft rate?
In our study of the auto theft capitals in the United States, Albuquerque ranked as the city with the most auto thefts with 1,181 thefts per 100,000 residents of that city. In fact, Albuquerque is headed in the opposite direction in terms of the number of auto thefts: Thefts grew by 27.7 percent from 2015 to 2018.
#4 – What is a shaved key?
A shaved key is a tool thieves use to cause tension in the ignition, eventually fooling the ignition to believe that the shaved key is an actual key. It takes advantage of the weakness in a lock to get the car to start up and is one of many tools thieves use to steal cars.
This tends to work on older vehicles, which don’t have the anti-theft technology to combat shaved keys. In general, shaved keys lag behind other measures used to steal cars including general key theft when a car owner leaves their keys in the car or in an easy place to steal.
#5 – Can push-to-start cars be stolen?
Yes, push-to-start cars can be stolen if a thief has the necessary equipment to determine the frequency between the push-to-start key and the car. For this to work, the thief has to be close to the house and the car. Once they determine the frequency between the key and the car, a thief can use it to unlock the car, start it up, and steal it.
#6 – What is a ghost alarm?
A ghost alarm is considered an anti-theft system in which the owner of the car must use a special personal identification number (PIN) to gain access to the car. This PIN must be used before driving the car, even if the thief has a shaved key, fob, or even an actual key.
Owners find this anti-theft technology valuable because it makes their vehicles much more difficult to steal. Most users find this more effective than the traditional anti-theft equipment.
#7 – How can I protect my car from being stolen?
To prevent your car from being stolen, there are a few helpful tips that decrease the risk of a car targeting and stealing your vehicle. These include never leaving your car running while not in the car, never leaving your windows down, and never parking in a dimly lit area.
In addition, there are numerous auto-theft prevention devices like LoJacks, steering columns, and VIN etching that can prevent thieves from targeting your vehicle. Some of these have another positive: Your insurance provider might give you a discount for adding them, as you’d be less likely of filing a comprehensive insurance claim with these devices.
#8 – How does a car anti-theft system work?
A car anti-theft system works by installing sensors around your vehicle or in the interior of the vehicle. When the car anti-theft system is active, it can alert owners and the people surrounding the car that it is being stolen. These are just one of the kinds of systems people use to deter motor vehicle thefts.
#9 – What percentage of stolen cars are found?
According to Statista, 56 percent of stolen cars were recovered in 2019, which is a much higher recovery rate than for all stolen items including firearms, livestock, consumable goods, and clothing.
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#10 – What usually happens to stolen cars?
Statistics show that the police recover over half of all stolen cars. Sometimes, stolen cars are found in bad condition, with the thief taking it for a joyride or using it for a number of days and harming the condition of the car. Others wind up in chop shops where thieves strip the car for its parts, then sell them on the market for cheap.
#11 – Does a stolen car increase insurance?
Although this depends on the situation, auto insurance rates often increase following instances where someone files a claim, as in for an accident. In the case of a stolen car, if a person has comprehensive insurance coverage, the insurance company will likely cover the cost of the damage to the stolen car. But that person’s auto insurance rates might rise.
#12 – How much does insurance pay if a car is stolen?
This depends on what coverages you have and the extent of the damage to the vehicle. Car theft is covered under comprehensive auto insurance coverage.
If you don’t have that coverage, your auto insurance company is under no obligation to pay for the theft of your stolen car. If you do have comprehensive auto insurance, the auto insurance company will reimburse you for the damage based on the actual cash value of the car.
#13 – How does insurance handle a stolen car?
Like with other types of claims, an auto insurance company will rely on different authoritative accounts of the incident to come to a conclusion about how much to pay out if your car is stolen. In the case of vehicle theft, that includes the police report, among other accounts.
There are only two auto insurance coverages that cover vehicle theft: comprehensive auto insurance coverage and GAP auto insurance coverage. Without either of those, your auto insurance company is under no legal obligation to pay for the damage to your stolen vehicle.
#14 – What happens if an uninsured car gets stolen?
Unfortunately, if your car was uninsured at the time that it was stolen, there are very few legal ways for you to recoup the financial investment in that vehicle. Technically, you could sue the individual that stole the car if they are captured but insurance companies will, obviously, not pay you a dime.
#15 – Can I report my car stolen if my girlfriend took it?
Yes, if your girlfriend stole your car, you can report the car as stolen to the police so that it can be reclaimed. Note: This is a hazardous situation in which a relationship might be difficult to recover from. It is likely that if you take this step, you will lose your girlfriend.
#16 – What to do if you know who stole your car?
Call the police and report the car stolen along with the person who you believe stole your car. That gives the police department a lead other than your vehicle, which might lead to your vehicle being recovered quicker.
Methodology: Determining the Most Stolen Vehicles in America
In our detailed study to determine the 10 most stolen cars, our researchers looked at one primary source of information: the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB gets its information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR), where vehicle thefts are allocated in terms of geographical region and types of cars stolen.
From it, our experts collected data about which cars were stolen the most for every year between 2016 and 2018 as well as the number of total vehicle thefts for those years.
They then analyzed that data to determine which vehicles were stolen the most between that time period, combining vehicle theft totals for those years and creating percentages to represent how much a vehicle was stolen compared to other vehicles.
Our researchers did this for all cars in our list of the 10 most stolen cars in the United States, seeing not just how many vehicles were stolen per model and make but how much this total represented in the total number of thefts.
We used the NICB data to determine which vehicles were stolen the most for each state. From it, we saw how most pickup truck thefts were in rural states, and cars were most stolen in urbanized states.
In all, our in-depth study included data points that numbered over 1,000 if you look at each individual category. With all categories combined, the number of data points our team look at was well over 5 million.
Now that you have learned about the top stolen cars in America, you’ll want to check out another one of our recent studies. We compiled reports to determine the worst cities for vehicle theft in the nation. In this article, you’ll learn the 15 cities that are hot spots for vehicle thefts along with national trends for these types of robberies.
We’ve highlighted that in order to protect yourself financially from vehicle theft you need one of two auto insurance coverages: comprehensive auto insurance coverage or GAP auto insurance coverage. To get the best quote for auto insurance based on your demographic information and your area, even if you own one of the top stolen vehicles in America, plug your ZIP code into our FREE online quote generator.