Stolen Car Report

Table of Contents


When it comes to car theft, the nation’s biggest cities may make the most headlines, but every state has areas where drivers should take extra precaution to secure their vehicle.

Car theft is a major concern for many American drivers and for good reason: there are more than 880,000 vehicle thefts each year across the United States, according to the most recent data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) Hot Spots report. To put this huge number in perspective, an average of one vehicle is stolen in the U.S. every 36 seconds

While the country’s biggest cities have a reputation for being carjacking hotbeds, the reality is that car theft poses a risk to drivers everywhere, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NICB notes that the pandemic created multiple national crises — including an economic slump and diminished school and social programming — that correlate with increased car theft rates. In America, the total number of vehicles stolen rose 11% between 2019 and 2020, marking a sharp departure from several years of modest declines in carjackings. With theft rates on the rise, drivers should be vigilant about locking their car and keeping valuables out of sight, especially in areas of higher risk. Drivers who have unfortunately fallen victim to car theft can take steps such as filing a police report, having the right paperwork on hand when talking to their insurance company, and remembering to file a stolen vehicle report with the DMV as well. 

Curious to see where carjackings are most common in every state, the data scientists at Insurify analyzed NICB data to identify the city in each state with the highest car theft rate. 


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Insights

  • National averages. The average car theft rate across all cities in the U.S. is 288 vehicles per 100,000 residents, or about one stolen car per year for every 347 residents. For context, carjackings occur about as often as American drivers buy electric vehicles, which they did at a rate of one new car per 468 drivers in 2021, according to data from Cox Automotive and Statista.
  • Wild, Wild West. While car theft occurs everywhere in America, it is most common in Western states. The ten U.S. cities with the highest rates of vehicle theft all reside in the West; California even has four cities in the top ten, including the top two. Overall, carjackings occur 2.3 times more often in these cities than in the country as a whole. 
  • Vehicle safe haven. Far from the American West, State College, Pennsylvania, is the safest U.S. city for cars in 2022. Its car theft rate of just 17 vehicles per 100,000 residents is a whopping 94% less than the national average. Residents of State College — which, as its name suggests, is home to Penn State University — apparently take extreme care to secure their vehicles and are constantly looking out for each other’s rides. 


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Methodology

The data scientists at Insurify, a car insurance comparison site, compiled data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) most recent Hot Spots report on auto theft rates in 382 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) across the United States. From this data, they identified the metro area in every state reporting the highest auto theft incidence per 100,000 residents, as well as the top ten cities overall with the highest auto theft rates. The data scientists identified these MSA’s as the cities with the most car thefts in 2022. Due to insufficient metropolitan area data, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont were excluded from this analysis. 

Population data for each metro area was gathered from the United States Census Bureau.

The findings in this article represent statistical trends found in Insurify’s analysis of the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Hot Spots data. The findings of this study are not meant to imply the direction nor necessarily the existence of a causal relationship. Rather, this is a presentation of statistical correlations of public interest.

City in Each State With the Most Car Thefts Per Capita (2022)

Alabama: Mobile

  • Population: 429,536
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 304 (26% greater than state average) 

Alaska: Fairbanks

  • Population: 96,849
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 381 (2% greater than state average) 

Arizona: Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler

  • Population: 4,948,203
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 279 (35% greater than state average) 

Arkansas: Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway

  • Population: 742,384
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 402 (17% greater than state average) 

California: Bakersfield

  • Population: 900,202
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 905 (53% greater than state average) 

Colorado: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood

  • Population: 2,967,239
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 706 (45% greater than state average) 

Connecticut: New Haven-Milford

  • Population: 854,757
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 338 (31% greater than state average) 

Florida: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach

  • Population: 6,166,488
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 289 (40% greater than state average) 

Georgia: Macon-Bibb County

  • Population: 229,996
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 336 (35% greater than state average) 

Idaho: Pocatello

  • Population: 95,489
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 186 (28% greater than state average) 

Illinois: Carbondale-Marion

  • Population: 135,764
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 279 (33% greater than state average) 

Indiana: Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson

  • Population: 2,074,537
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 349 (39% greater than state average) 

Iowa: Davenport-Moline-Rock Island

  • Population: 379,172
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 329 (42% greater than state average) 

Kansas: Topeka

  • Population: 231,969
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 535 (36% greater than state average) 

Kentucky: Louisville/Jefferson County

  • Population: 1,265,108
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 506 (46% greater than state average) 

Louisiana: New Orleans-Metairie

  • Population: 1,270,530
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 395 (28% greater than state average) 

Maine: Bangor

  • Population: 152,148
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 84 (22% greater than state average) 

Maryland: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson

  • Population: 2,800,053
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 226 (53% greater than state average) 

Massachusetts: Springfield

  • Population: 697,382
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 149 (41% greater than state average) 

Michigan: Kalamazoo-Portage

  • Population: 265,066
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 371 (54% greater than state average) 

Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington

  • Population: 3,640,043
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 376 (49% greater than state average) 

Mississippi: Jackson 

  • Population: 594,806
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 332 (13% greater than state average) 

Missouri: Kansas City

  • Population: 2,157,990
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 545 (34% greater than state average) 

Montana: Billings

  • Population: 181,667
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 565 (41% greater than state average) 

Nebraska: Omaha-Council Bluffs

  • Population: 949,442
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 397 (38% greater than state average) 

Nevada: Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise

  • Population: 2,266,715
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 407 (30% greater than state average) 

New Mexico: Albuquerque

  • Population: 918,018
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 632 (43% greater than state average) 

New Jersey: Trenton-Princeton

  • Population: 367,430
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 171 (22% greater than state average) 

New York: Buffalo-Cheektowaga

  • Population: 1,127,983
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 220 (61% greater than state average) 

North Carolina: Greensboro-High Point

  • Population: 771,851
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 273 (30% greater than state average) 

North Dakota: Fargo

  • Population: 246,145
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 267 (27% greater than state average) 

Ohio: Columbus

  • Population: 2,122,271
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 290 (28% greater than state average) 

Oklahoma: Tulsa

  • Population: 998,626
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 552 (39% greater than state average) 

Oregon: Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro

  • Population: 2,492,412
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 490 (43% greater than state average) 

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington

  • Population: 6,102,434
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 213 (67% greater than state average) 

South Carolina: Columbia 

  • Population: 838,433
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 419 (26% greater than state average) 

South Dakota: Rapid City

  • Population: 142,107
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 400 (3% greater than state average) 

Tennessee: Memphis

  • Population: 1,346,045
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 460 (37% greater than state average) 

Texas: Odessa

  • Population: 166,223
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 664 (59% greater than state average) 

Utah: Salt Lake City

  • Population: 1,232,696
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 542 (60% greater than state average) 

Virginia: Richmond

  • Population: 1,291,900
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 214 (44% greater than state average) 

Washington: Yakima

  • Population: 250,873
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 488 (46% greater than state average) 

West Virginia: Charleston

  • Population: 257,074
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 268 (47% greater than state average) 

Wisconsin: Milwaukee-Waukesha

  • Population: 1,575,179
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 345 (66% greater than state average) 

Wyoming: Cheyenne

  • Population: 99,500
  • Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents: 237 (9% greater than state average) 

1. Make sure you’re actually reporting a stolen car.

Sometimes the most crucial steps are also the most overlooked. You’d be surprised at how many people report stolen cars when the car is still in their possession. In many states, filing a false police report about a stolen car is a crime and can have criminal consequences—you need to be absolutely sure your car was stolen before you call the police.

Even though it can be challenging to keep a clear head when you think your car has been stolen, you need to do a quick sanity check. Make sure the car wasn’t moved by mistake, or you parked somewhere and forgot where it was.

Think about where your car was parked. Could the car have been towed because you overparked in an area with a time limit? Did you leave the vehicle unattended in an area where cars aren’t allowed to park? If there’s a chance the vehicle was taken away by a tow truck, the best thing you can do is check the impound first. A quick call to the impound will prevent you from filing a stolen vehicle report when your car is technically still in your possession.

2. Get ready to file a police report.

Over 773,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen in 2017 alone, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting. If you think someone took your car, you’ll need to report the situation to your local police department and provide as much information as possible about the stolen vehicle. The police will ask you about when you last saw the car and when you last drove it. They’ll also ask you whether you have a tracking device on it and for details about the make, model, and year of the vehicle. You’ll need a copy of this police report when you file a claim with your insurance company, so make sure to ask the police officer where you can get a copy after the report is filed.

The police can then move forward to investigate the case further if it’s warranted. They will run your license plate number, and your car’s details will be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. This allows all law enforcement officials to track the vehicle in the event the car is found somewhere else, or someone gets pulled over while driving it.

3. Talk to your insurance company.

You may be surprised to know that not all auto insurance providers insure vehicles for car theft. Once you have a police case number, you’ll need to share that with your insurance provider and explain what happened. You can provide the same details you shared in the police report, and the insurance company will ask for a copy of the police report to support your insurance claim.

How much you will be reimbursed for the stolen vehicle will depend on your insurance policy’s coverage. Most insurance companies will provide up to the state minimum, and this varies from state to state. You’ll need comprehensive coverage to qualify for reimbursement of a stolen vehicle, and how much you receive will depend on the value of the car and other factors.

If your insurance company does provide coverage for a stolen car, they will investigate the situation on their own. They will take steps to rule out all possibilities of fraud—they want to make sure you’re not hiding the vehicle or attempting to file a claim when the car hasn’t really been stolen. The adjuster might ask you questions, such as where you last parked your car, if there were any security and/or anti-theft devices in the vehicle, and details from your police report. There may be a waiting period to confirm that you don’t have the car anymore, and this can be as long as 7 days to 2 weeks, depending on the carrier.

If the insurance company determines that your car was stolen, they will reimburse you for the total cash value of your vehicle: the total you paid for the vehicle minus depreciation, as of the day the car was reported stolen. You’ll receive a check minus your deductible as your reimbursement.

If you don’t think the amount they valued for your vehicle is fair, you can file a dispute, so they adjust the amount. You will need to provide proof that the car is worth more than the car insurance company says it is in the form of blue book values, any photos of the vehicle in good condition, and features that the insurance adjuster might have left out.

4. File a stolen vehicle report with the DMV.

Even though you’ve filed a police report, once your insurance company has officially declared the car to be a total loss and a stolen vehicle, there’s one more step. Now, you’ll need to report the situation to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The DMV maintains a database of stolen cars and can help the police recover the vehicle faster if somebody comes in to register the car under their name. The car is now no longer in your possession, but there’s still a chance it could show up later. Making sure the DMV knows about the change in ownership will help you stay free of any future issues related to the vehicle.

5. Do a stolen car check yourself.

Call it DIY sleuthing. You might want to search for cars in your area for sale to see if someone is trying to sell your stolen car on The Auto Channel Used Car Super Search.

This is the last resort if you don’t feel like you are getting the help you need when your car is stolen or if your insurance company can’t reimburse you for the vehicle. Still, this strategy could work in your favor if you’re determined to find your vehicle and locate the car thief for good.

This approach might be a stretch, but could help you locate your car without outside help. Once you find it, you can get back in touch with the police to share your evidence and wait for the vehicle to be recovered.

Having your car stolen can be stressful, and sometimes there is only so much you can do to prevent auto theft. However, knowing what steps to take when you realize your car has disappeared and acting quickly can help you remedy the situation.

Insurify can help you to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. It’s a necessary step to protect yourself from auto theft in the future, so it pays to shop around and compare rates on comprehensive coverage.

You’ve got this!

Sources

Data Attribution

The information, statistics, and data visualizations on this page are free to use, we just ask that you attribute any full or partial use to Insurify with a link to this page. Thank you!

If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to request the data, please contact [email protected].

Updated March 16, 2022





Insurify Insights

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 4 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.