There were 810,400 vehicles stolen in 2020, totaling about $7.4 billion in total motor vehicle thefts. Vehicle theft is up 11.8% since 2019, when 724,872 vehicles were stolen. Overall property and violent crimes spiked in 2020, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn.

In its motor vehicle theft statistics, the FBI includes several types of vehicles and not only cars. Motor vehicle theft statistics include automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, snowmobiles and others.

Based on the latest available research and data, these are the most current car theft statistics for 2020.

Key car theft facts

Bankrate insights
  • 810,400 vehicles were stolen in 2020, up 11.8% from 2019, when 724,872 vehicles were stolen. (FBI)
  • Motor vehicle theft amounted to $7.4 billion in losses in 2020 alone. (FBI)
  • The average dollar loss per 2020 vehicle theft equaled $9,166. (FBI)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic, corresponding economic downturn, public safety resource limitations and a decrease in programs for juvenile outreach may have accounted for this 2020 increase in motor vehicle theft. (National Insurance Crime Bureau – NCIB)
  • New Year’s Day is the holiday with the most vehicle thefts. (NCIB)
  • Motor vehicle theft is the third most common property crime in the United States. (S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  • 86% of motor vehicle thefts were reported to the police in 2020, which made motor vehicle theft the most reported type of property crime that year. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 
  • In 2019, only 17.2% of property crimes (of which auto theft is one) were “cleared,” which means a suspect was charged with the crime. (Pew Research)

How many cars are stolen each year?

Car theft rates spiked in 2020, according to data released by the FBI. 810,400 vehicles were stolen in 2020, compared with 721,885 vehicles stolen in 2019. That means car thefts have increased by 11.8% from 2019 to 2020, with an eye-popping 88,515 more motor vehicles stolen in 2020.

The methods thieves use to steal vehicles become more sophisticated as technology advances. Some thieves may acquire smart keys or change a vehicle’s VIN number to complete the theft. Vehicle owner negligence may result in theft as well. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found that between 2016 and 2018, nearly 230,000 vehicles were stolen because the vehicle’s fob had been left inside the car.

Does car insurance cover theft?

Your car insurance handles theft and loss in a few different ways. The comprehensive portion of your insurance policy typically covers the theft of your vehicle. It also can cover the cost of repairs, such as broken windows, locks or ignition.

Your comprehensive coverage only covers the vehicle itself, not the items inside, so your personal belongings are not typically covered by your car insurance. However, if you have homeowners insurance, the personal belongings in your vehicle would likely be covered through your homeowners, renters or condo insurance. This means that when it comes time to report your losses, you would likely need to file a car insurance claim and a home insurance claim.

Car theft statistics

Car theft can happen anywhere, but it is more prevalent in certain higher-populated areas. Metropolitan areas have significantly more vehicle thefts than surrounding and non-metropolitan areas.

Motor Vehicle Theft by City Type (FBI)

Area type Estimated total Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
Metropolitan areas 662,121 234.5
Cities outside metropolitan areas 29,762 158.9
Non-metropolitan areas 30,002 110.5

Specific regions are also prone to higher crime levels, with the Western and Southern regions of the U.S. experiencing a higher rate of auto theft than other areas like the Midwest and Northeast, which have the lowest number of incidents of motor vehicle theft.

Motor Vehicle Theft by Region (FBI)

Area Population Total Motor Vehicle Theft Rate per 100,000
Northeast 55,982,803 50,801 90.7
New England 14,845,063 15,371 103.5
Middle Atlantic 41,137,740 35,430 86.1
Midwest 68,329,004 129,542 189.6
East North Central 46,902,431 76,299 162.7
West North Central 21,426,573 53,243 248.5
South 125,580,448 280,447 223.3
South Atlantic 65,784,817 123,744 188.1
East South Central 19,176,181 47,700 248.7
West South Central 40,619,450 109,003 268.4
West 78,347,268 261,095 333.3
Mountain 24,854,998 71,880 289.2
Pacific 53,492,270 189,215 353.7

The type of car you have can also make you a target. Data shows that certain vehicles are targeted more than others, with these vehicles serving as the top 10 most popularly stolen vehicle makes and models.

Motor Vehicle Theft by Vehicle Make and Model (NCIB)

Vehicle Model year most frequently stolen Thefts
Ford Pickup, Full Size 2006 38,938
Honda Civic 2000 33,220
Chevrolet Pickup, Full Size 2004 32,583
Honda Accord 1997 30,745
Toyota Camry 2007 15,656
Nissan Altima 2015 13,355
Toyota Corolla 2018 12,137
Dodge Pickup, Full Size 2001 11,292
GMC Pickup, Full Size 2018 11,164
Honda CR-V 2001 10,094

Car theft rates over time

After an increase in motor vehicle thefts between 2015 and 2017, the crime rate decreased in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, car thefts spiked 11.8% from the year before.

Motor Vehicle Theft Year-over-Year (FBI)

Year Vehicles Stolen Percent Change
2010 739,565 -7.0%
2011 716,508 -3.1%
2012 723,186 0.9%
2013 700,288 -3.2%
2014 686,803 -1.9%
2015 713,063 3.8%
2016 767,290 7.6%
2017 772,943 0.7%
2018 751,904 -2.7%
2019 721,885 -4.0%
2020 810,400 11.8%

States with the most car theft

Where you live also matters when it comes to car theft statistics. The top states for car theft may surprise you. In looking at the rate per 100,000 citizens, FBI data shows that car theft rates are highest among Western states. Hawaii, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon experience the most stolen cars in the United States.

States with the Most Car Theft (FBI)

State Rate per 100,000
New Mexico 427.2
Colorado 384.0
Hawaii 371.1
Nevada 365.6
Oregon 360.0

States with the least car theft

FBI data also shows that some states have significantly fewer car thefts than others. In addition to Idaho, eastern states like Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and New York all have the lowest amounts of car theft.

States with the Least Car Theft (FBI)

State Rate per 100,000
Vermont 47.8
Maine 54.0
New York 65.3
New Hampshire 65.7
Idaho 87.9

Car theft statistics by state

As demonstrated above, the motor vehicle theft rate can vary significantly from state to state. Here we offer a detailed listing of each state, showing the total population and the total number of motor vehicle thefts compared to the rate per 100,000.

Property Crimes by State, 2019 (FBI)

State Rate per 100,000
Alabama 256.5
Alaska 357.7
Arizona 249.4
Arkansas 245.9
California 358.8
Colorado 384.0
Connecticut 167.3
Delaware 164.7
District of Columbia 330.6
Florida 181.8
Georgia 223.9
Hawaii 371.1
Idaho 87.9
Illinois 148.2
Indiana 203.8
Iowa 163.0
Kansas 249.9
Kentucky 228.2
Louisiana 230.5
Maine 54.0
Maryland 186.2
Massachusetts 89.0
Michigan 177.7
Minnesota 198.9
Mississippi 193.1
Missouri 343.3
Montana 222.4
Nebraska 257.7
Nevada 365.6
New Hampshire 65.7
New Jersey 116.4
New Mexico 427.2
North Carolina 172.2
North Dakota 235.2
Ohio 159.7
Oklahoma 338.1
Oregon 360.0
New York 65.3
Pennsylvania 96.8
Puerto Rico 114.8
Rhode Island 128.2
South Carolina 290.8
South Dakota 198.5
Tennessee 280.9
Texas 267.2
Utah 210.2
Vermont 47.8
Virginia 120.3
Washington 320.5
West Virginia 135.0
Wisconsin 126.8
Wyoming 123.2

Car security

Even without a key, thieves are becoming smarter each year. They are adapting to new technologies by swapping vehicle identification numbers and using smart keys for access instead of hot-wiring. Some are even bold enough to secure auto loans under false identities to steal high-value luxury vehicles.

To help combat this, car manufacturers and companies that manufacture car accessories are creating new security measures that you can use to prevent car theft.

  • Steering wheel locks: Easy to use and store, steering wheel locks can prevent the wheel from moving when the vehicle is not in use.
  • Tire and rim locks: You can affix an anti-theft tire or wheel lock on to prevent movement when you are away.
  • Hood locks: These prevent the hood from opening so thieves cannot gain access to your engine or other parts.
  • GPS devices: If your car is stolen, a GPS device can help you track your vehicle for easy recovery by law enforcement.

Car alarm systems

Most vehicles come equipped with a car alarm, but if your car does not have one, there are several external models you can add with an optional key remote starter. Even if your vehicle has an alarm system, you can purchase additional tools to deter car theft.

A killswitch can prevent your engine from being started when you are not driving your vehicle. Some alarms will even automatically activate when you remove your key from the ignition, while others will allow you to sound an alarm, no matter where your vehicle is located at the moment.

No matter what you choose, it is essential to be sure that you protect yourself. The right security system with the best car and home insurance bundle can ensure that you are prepared, even if car theft happens to you.