25 Horrifying Car Theft Statistics

Ferdinand Porsche said: 

“I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself.” 

The rest of us might be forced to find the car of our dreams, as we certainly don’t all have the resources or imagination to design them. 

But one thing’s for sure:

We love our cars! 

For some of us, it’s simply a case of getting from A to B. For others, it’s all about the joy of being behind the wheel. Whatever the case, we’ll all find these car theft statistics genuinely shocking. 

The thing is:

Cars are an expensive commodity. Then, of course, there are associated costs. Gas, tax, insurance, regular services, and maintenance all add up. But, these expenses keep us on the road safely. They give us convenience as well as style. Thanks to our cars, we don’t have to stand at a freezing bus stop at 7 am. 

But, when you look at these car break ins statistics, you might start to wonder if we are offering our cars enough protection.

  • About $6 billion were lost to auto theft in 2018.
  • New Year’s Day is the most common holiday day for vehicle theft, with 2,469 stolen vehicles.
  • Some new cars can be broken into in as little as 10 seconds.
  • Between January 2016 and December 2018, 229,339 stolen vehicles had key fobs or keys left inside. 
  • 38,426 Honda Civics were stolen in 2018.
  • California had 155,211 vehicles stolen in 2018. 
  • In the US, the average recovery rate is 46%.

Auto Theft Statistics

1. About $6 billion were lost to auto theft in 2018.


These mind-blowing auto theft stats include the theft of cars, trucks, buses, scooters, snowmobiles, and other road vehicles. 

2. $8,407 was the average loss per theft. 


Loss per theft varies massively between states, depending on the average value of vehicles, and the new to used car ratio on the roads. 

3. New Year’s Day is the most common holiday day for vehicle theft, with 2,469 stolen vehicles.

(USA Today)

New Year’s Day is often a popular time for crime. People have been out. They are tired. They might have left their car in an unusual place. So, thieves jump on New Year’s Day as an easy target. 

4. President’s Day is the second most popular holiday for car thieves, with 2,312 stolen vehicles. 


Other popular days include Halloween (2,297), Memorial Day (2,290), Labor Day (2,180), Valentine’s Day (2,169), Independence Day (2,124), Christmas Eve (2,054), Thanksgiving (1,777), New Year’s Eve (1,962), and Christmas Day (1,664). In previous years, Black Friday has also been a hotbed of vehicle theft, with 2,244 reported stolen in 2015.

5. In the UK, motor vehicle theft statistics show that vehicle thefts rose by 50% in 5 years. 

(This is Money)

This is primarily attributed to reduced police levels and criminal gangs hacking keyless systems. 

6. Between 2015 and 2017, 697,000 motor vehicles were stolen in the EU.


Car crime is very much a global issue and certainly not something that is confined to the US. The situation is just as bad in Europe. 

7. 32% of cars stolen in winter months have their keys left inside, compared to 24% the rest of the year. 


Many of these cars are taken by a process known as frosting. This is when thieves steal vehicles while their owners are defrosting them, having left the keys in while they return to the house or going about other tasks. Many insurance policies do not cover these thefts. 

8. Some new cars can be broken into in as little as 10 seconds.

(What Car?)

While many new cars are significantly safer on the road and harder to steal, this isn’t the case across the board. Criminals are becoming more sophisticated and can hack keyless fobs quite easily. Many cars can be taken in a blink of an eye.

Car Theft Statistics - cars

Car Theft Statistics 2018

9. In the UK, car break in statistics grew by 9% in 2018. 

(Office of National Statistics)

This followed a steady increase in car thefts after a record low of 70,053 reported thefts between March 2013 and April 2014. The president of the Automobile Association (AA), Edmund King, called this growth “very worrying.”

10. In the US, there were 228.9 reported thefts per 100000 in 2018. 


This was a drop from 237.7 per 100000 in 2017. Numbers have been relatively consistent since reaching a high of 315 per 100000 in 2008.

11. In the US, stolen cars statistics were down by 3.1% in 2018.


Numbers have been relatively steady, with minor variations over the last five years, a stark contrast from stats from the UK.

12. 74.9% of all vehicles stolen in the US in 2018 were automobiles.


Cars make up a significant portion of road vehicles stolen. This is generally because they are easier to take and move without anyone noticing. They are also much easier to sell or use for parts.

Car Theft Statistics by Year

13. Between January 2016 and December 2018, 229,339 stolen vehicles had key fobs or keys left inside. 


Keys are more often left in cars in the wintertime, but it’s still a problem at other times of the year. Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even for a minute, and you’re much less likely to become one of many stolen car statistics.

14. In 2007 over a million vehicle thefts were reported. 

(The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy)

Most of these were cars, and the numbers have been much lower ever since due to harsher punishments for thieves and improved car security. 

But what models are we talking about?

Let’s find out.

Most Frequently Stolen Car

15. 38,426 Honda Civics were stolen in 2018. 


Older models of Honda Civic, especially the 1996 version, are often the most commonly stolen car. This might be shocking, as it’s a car with no defining features that could easily get lost in a parking lot. Perhaps this is precisely what makes it easier to steal. 

16. 36,815 Honda Accords were stolen in 2018. 


Another Honda at the top of the car theft statistics by model list. Interestingly, when it comes to motorcycle theft, Honda models are still the most stolen, with 8,260 reported thefts in 2018. 

17. Ford Pickup with 36,355 and Chevrolet Pickup with 31,566 are next in the top 10. 


GMC Pickup and Dodge Pickup also rank highly. Pickups are an attractive option for criminals. 

18. GMC Pickup is the most common 2018 stolen model with 1,170 reports.


The top 2018 stolen model is still significantly lower than the number of thefts reported for older cars. Modern security is working in the US.

Car Theft Statistics - burglary

Top Places for Vehicle Thefts

19. California had 155,211 vehicles stolen in 2018. 

(USA Today)

The Golden State had significantly more vehicle theft in 2018 than any other state, and the most common car stolen was the Honda Civic. However, different crime rates in California are lower, and the poverty rate is low. So, it’s not accurate to say that more car vehicle thefts happen in states with high crime, high poverty, and low education. 

20. Texas is the second most popular state for car crime, with 69,817 vehicles stolen in 2018. 


Auto theft statistics by state are widely varied, with little reason behind the numbers. Florida (41,165), Washington (27,677), and Georgia (24,760) also feature highly. 

21. Only 253 cars were stolen in Vermont in 2018. 


Car burglary statistics are low in Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, and New Hampshire in particular.

Cities With the Highest Car Theft Rates

22. Albuquerque, New Mexico, had 7,146 vehicles stolen in 2018, making it top of the car theft rates by city list. 


Often, it’s smaller cities with fewer occupants that have hire thefts per capita than more densely populated areas. 

23. Anchorage, Alaska, had 3,087 thefts, at 773.4 per capita. 


These include car break ins with no damage. Other popular cities for car crime include Bakersfield, Pueblo, Modesto, Redding, and Wichita. When it comes to car theft statistics by city, many of these places have reduced crime rates over the last five years but still have a long way to go.

Stolen Car Recovery Rate

24. In the US, the average recovery rate is 46%.

(Progressive Insurance)

Most stolen cars become automobile theft statistics but never get recovered, even though they might become the subject of the occasional pop song by Sting. 

25. In Utah, 63% of stolen cars are recovered. 

(Progressive Insurance)

Utah has a relatively high motor vehicle theft rate recovery. Washington is also high with 71%, while Alabama is low with 23%. When it comes to getting a stolen car back, where you live definitely plays a part.


When it comes to protection and safety, knowledge is power. Our car theft statistics from reputable sources and trusted studies will help you learn more about car theft rates by model, and you’ll be in a much better position to help yourself. 

Bottom line:

Avoid making the same mistakes, learn how to keep your car safe, and avoid lengthy insurance battles. Give the safety of your vehicle the attention that it deserves, and make the most of it while you can.


Q: What cars are most likely to be stolen?

A: When it comes to new cars from the 2016-2018 model years, the Dodge Charger HEMI is the most commonly stolen car. For the most part, more modern vehicles are significantly harder to take than older models when locked up and protected efficiently. But, they are also a more lucrative target, and so still a popular choice when it comes to most common stolen car lists. 

In the same year group, the four-door BMW 3-series sedan is 25 times less likely to be stolen than the average new vehicle. 

If we include older cars, the 1996 Honda Civic is a frequently stolen car, with 45,052 taken in one year. 

Q: What state has the highest car theft?

A: If we look at thefts per-capita, car theft rates in Alaska come out on top with 575.6 per 100,000 residents. When it comes to carjacking statistics by state, 

New Mexico (563.8), Nevada (427.3), California (425.9), and Oregon (413.7) are also car theft data hotspots. 

Q: What time do most car break ins occur?

A: You might think that your car is more likely to be stolen at night when it’s dark, and the streets are empty. But this isn’t the case. Research shows that most stolen cars reports are filed between 10 am and 3 pm, when the roads are more crowded.

Q: What percentage of stolen vehicles are recovered?

A: In the US, police recover 59.3% of locally stolen vehicles. That percentage shows a significantly higher recovery rate than other stolen possessions, but still not particularly high. 

Q: How can I protect my car from break ins?

A: Often, protecting your car from a break in is a case of using your common sense. Taking the time to lock it, closing the windows, and adding extra security features will always help. Parking in trusted lots, with CCTV cameras, or in well-lit areas is another big help. You should also make sure you remove valuables from your car. 

Q: What is the #1 stolen car in America?

A: The top stolen car in America is an older model Honda Civic. Others include the Honda Accord, Ford Pickup, Chevrolet Pickup, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and the Toyota Corolla.

Q: How often is a vehicle stolen in the US? 

A: In the US, a car is stolen every 6.5 minutes. 

Q: What percentage of stolen cars are found?

A: When including non-locally stolen cars, the average rate for vehicle recover is around 46%. But, these figures are wildly different from state to state. In Washington, up to 71% of stolen vehicles are recovered, but in Alabama, this figure drops to 28%.

Q: How does knowing these car theft statistics help me?

A: We never think our cars will be stolen. Much like we don’t believe anything else bad will ever happen to us. We believe other people will become carjacking statistics but not us. Hopefully, these stunning car theft statistics have shown you that this simply isn’t the case. You are as likely as anyone else to lose your car to theft.