Auto Theft in the United States-Important Stats, Facts & Tips to Help Avoid Becoming the Next Victim

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Auto Theft in the United States-Important Stats, Facts & Tips to Help Avoid Becoming the Next Victim

Everyday someone across the nation wakes up to find that their vehicle has been stolen—sometimes right out of their garage. Nearly $6 billion is lost to auto theft, making it a lucrative business for thieves. With over 750,000 vehicles stolen every year, chances are you know someone who has been victimized by this crime or have experienced this personal violation yourself. 

The following is some important information about auto theft and the steps you can take to avoid becoming the next statistic. 

Auto Theft in the United States

Every year the FBI collects data on vehicle theft in the U.S. The following is data from their most recent Uniformed Crime Report for 2017:

  • Approximately 773,139 vehicles were stolen in 2017.
  • Of the vehicles stolen, 75.4% were automobiles (cars, SUVs, & trucks).
  • Auto theft increased by approximately 10% from 2013 to 2017.
  • Over $6 billion in losses occurred due to auto theft.

According to data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, of the auto thefts that occurred between 2016 and 2018, 229,339 were due to the vehicle’s keys or key fob being left in the vehicles. That’s 209 vehicles every day!

Top 10 Cities with the Highest Auto Theft Rates

Metropolitan areas with dense populations experience more auto theft crimes than smaller rural areas. Of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest auto theft rates, 5 are in California. The following are the cities with the highest auto theft rates:

  1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  2. Anchorage, Alaska 
  3. Bakersfield, California 
  4. Pueblo, Colorado
  5. Modesto, California
  6. Redding, California
  7. Stockton-Lodi, California
  8. Wichita, Kansas
  9. Vallejo-Fairfield, California
  10. St. Joseph, Missouri

Top 7 Vehicles Stolen in the U.S.

As far as which vehicles are most popular among car thieves, large gas-powered vehicles are the most popular. The following is a list of the top 5 vehicles most likely to be stolen according to research produced by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI):

  1. Dodge Charger HEMI
  2. Dodge Challenger Hellcat
  3. Standard Dodge Charger 
  4. Infiniti Q50 
  5. Infiniti QX80
  6. Chrysler 300 4-wheel drive
  7. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The above data differs a great deal from the data collected and produced by U.S. law enforcement agencies. That’s because the HLDI’s data is based on the total losses per vehicle claims, not on the number of vehicles stolen by type. In terms of occurrence, here is a list of most common vehicles stolen: 

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Honda Accord 
  3. Ford F-150
  4. Chevrolet Silverado
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. Toyota Corolla

What Happens to Stolen Vehicles

Perhaps you’ve seen movies where vehicles are stolen and taken to an underground shop or to a shipping port. Such portrayals are very close to the real life scenarios for vehicles that get stolen in the U.S.

The number one reason criminals steal vehicles is for the money. Many vehicles are taken to a chop shop and disassembled into parts that can be sold. Other vehicles are sold intact on the black market. The sale and export of stolen vehicles to buyers in foreign countries is a big business and can translate into large sums of quick cash. 

Security Tips to Prevent Auto Theft

Auto theft victimizes everyone, including those who have never had their vehicle stolen. This is because every driver has to have auto insurance, and the premiums we pay take into account the losses incurred as a whole due to auto theft. 

To avoid succumbing to the personal violation and financial loss of auto theft, implement the following preventative measures:

  • Make it difficult to enter your vehicle. The more difficult you make it to enter your vehicle the better. This means remembering to lock your doors and rolling your windows up each time you exit your vehicle. Though it should be a no-brainer, NEVER leave your keys or key fob in your vehicle, even when your vehicle in parked in an enclosed garage.
  • Equip your vehicle with anti-theft devices. Every vehicle should have an alarm system. However, this is not the only anti-theft device available for vehicles. Another important device to install is VehicleGARD glass protection film. This anti-theft film makes glass windows practically impenetrable and can withstand multiple strikes by hard objects. While a car alarm is important, it cannot prevent a thief from breaking into your car through a window—vehicle glass protection film can. Other important anti-theft devices that can help prevent a thief from driving away with your car include steering wheel locks, wheel locks, break locks, and vehicle immobilizer devices. Displaying decals for anti-theft devices installed in your car can also help to deter crooks.
  • Never leave valuables or personal items in your car. Not every car thief wants to steal your vehicle. Some look to break into cars to steal valuable personal possessions. It is for this reason that you should never leave valuables or other personal items in your vehicle. This includes your vehicle registration, as this document reveals personal information such as your name and address. Instead of storing your registration in your car’s glove box or console, store a copy on your phone and/or keep a copy in your purse or wallet. 

You should also avoid keeping your garage door opener in your vehicle. This is especially true when you park outside your garage. Some criminals look to steal garage door openers as a way to access a person’s residence.

  • Equip your residence with home security devices. Every home should have a few select security devices to help deter and prevent intruders from accessing your personal property. Such devices include but are not limited to motion-activated security lights, an alarm system, a wireless surveillance system, heavy-duty deadbolts, and devices that can prevent break-ins. One such device is the OnGARD security door brace, which can prevent forcible entries through entry doors that swing inward. Like your vehicle, your home also has glass windows that need protecting by security glass protection film (see BurglarGARD glass protection kits). 
  • Equip your vehicle with an auto tracking device. Vehicles equipped with GPS tracking devices have a much higher chance of being located and recovered. Many vehicle tracking devices include telematics technology, which provides real-time alerts and allows owners to track their vehicles from their smart phone or a computer. 

Don’t Become Another Auto Theft Statistic

If you’re like most people, your vehicle isn’t just a means of transportation, it’s an essential part of your live that you feel emotionally connected to. So don’t wait for your vehicle to be stolen from you before taking action. Take preventative measures today to ensure you don’t become the next auto theft statistic. While you’re at it, share what you learned from this article to help those you care about protect against auto theft crime.