Cities With the Highest Auto Theft Rates
1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
1,018 thefts per 100,000 residents
Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico and has the highest rate of auto theft in the country. The ABQ's auto theft rate is over four times greater than that of Santa Fe. And in 2016 there were more car thefts in Albuquerque than there were in the Baltimore, Maryland, metropolitan area, which has more than three times the population.
2. Pueblo, Colorado
810 thefts per 100,000 residents
Pueblo, Colorado, has one of the highest rates of car theft in the country, at more than 200% greater than the national average. Furthermore, according to our study, drivers in Pueblo are 75% more likely to have their car stolen those in Denver — which ranked as the city with the second-highest rate of auto thefts in Colorado.
3. Bakersfield, California
732 thefts per 100,000 residents
Though there are 11 California MSAs in the top 20 worst cities for auto theft, Bakersfield had the highest theft rate in the state. Bakersfield's theft rate is 74% higher than that of the nearby Los Angeles and 13% higher than Modesto, which had the next highest rate in California.
4. Anchorage, Alaska
679 thefts per 100,000 residents
Anchorage is the largest and most densely populated city in Alaska, with approximately 300,000 residents living in and around the city. It is also home to the state's largest airport, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and major Alaskan thoroughfares, the Seward and Glenn highways. Anchorage's auto theft rate was more than 155% greater than the national average.
5. Modesto, California
648 thefts per 100,000 residents
Located in California's central valley, Modesto is known as a hub for agriculture and as the setting for the Academy Award-nominated film "American Graffiti." In 2016 there were roughly 3,500 car thefts in the metropolitan area, making Modesto's auto theft rate 77% higher than nearby Sacramento's.
6. San Francisco, California
602 thefts per 100,000 residents
San Francisco is one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S. and, as such, has a variety of public transit options, which include the Muni and the BART. However, in the city, there are still plenty of car owners, as San Francisco also has one of the highest rates of auto theft in the nation. In 2016, there were 96 more cars stolen in San Francisco per 100,000 residents than there were in nearby San Jose.
7. Salt Lake City, Utah
590 thefts per 100,000 residents
Salt Lake City is the most populous city in Utah, with nearly 1.2 million people living in the SLC metropolitan area. The city has one of the highest rates of car theft in the country and by far the highest in Utah. In fact, of the Utah MSAs we surveyed, SLC is the only one to have a theft rate greater than the national average.
8. Salinas, California
580 thefts per 100,000 residents
Salinas — known as the Salad Bowl of the World — has long struggled with crime, which some have theorized is a result of its proximity to the Salinas Valley State Prison. Salinas' auto theft rate is 15% higher than that of nearby San Jose.
9. Seattle, Washington
560 thefts per 100,000 residents
The Seattle area is the largest MSA in the Pacific Northwest, with 3.8 million residents — 1.3 million more residents than nearby Portland, Oregon. This city also had a theft rate 44% greater than that of Portland (560 thefts per 100,000 residents for Seattle compared to 390 per 100,000 for Portland).
10. Spokane, Washington
541 thefts per 100,000 residents
Located on the opposite side of Washington State from Seattle and just 18 miles south of the Canada‒U.S. border is the city of Spokane. This city's auto theft rate is over three times higher than that of nearby Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and more than twice the national average.
Breakdown of the Worst Cities for Auto Theft by Region
According to our study, auto thefts vary greatly by region, with western cities having the highest theft rate — averaging 336 thefts per 100,000 residents. On the other end of the spectrum, northeastern cities averaged only 85 thefts per 100,000 residents, which is 68% less than the national average.
Western States Also Have the Highest Theft Rates by Registered Vehicles
Though it is true that generally Western cities have a higher proportion of car owners than other parts of the country — which could contribute to their higher theft rate — even when you adjust for vehicle registration, Western states rank as having the highest rate of auto theft. In other words, even when you account for the fact that the West has a higher proportion of drivers, it still ranks as the worst region for car theft. The five states with the highest rate of theft relative to vehicle registration are located in the Western region.
How Comprehensive Coverage Can Protect You From Car Theft
Having an auto insurance policy that includes comprehensive insurance helps protect you in the event that your car is stolen. This coverage will pay to replace your vehicle if it is stolen. It also covers repairs for damage caused by natural disasters, fire and falling objects.
If your car is stolen, comprehensive coverage can pay to replace your car up to its market value minus your deductible — which is the amount you have to pay for a covered claim before your insurance kicks in. Choosing a high deductible will result in lower premiums, however, if your vehicle is stolen you will have to pay more out of pocket to replace it.
Purchasing a car insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage will be more expensive than a policy that only includes basic liability coverage. However, the actual cost will depend on a variety of factors — such as what vehicle you're insuring and which insurance company you go with.
To get the lowest car insurance rates, we recommend that you shop around and compare quotes from multiple companies. Additionally, where you live can have a large effect on your rates. For example, if you live in an area with a high rate of auto theft, you are likely to pay more for comprehensive coverage than those living in areas with a low theft rate.
Complete List of Cities and Their Auto Theft Rates
Thefts per 100,000 residents
|155||Abilene, TX M.S.A.||298||175|
|197||Akron, OH M.S.A.||1,013||144|
|270||Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY M.S.A.||720||82|
|195||Albany, GA M.S.A.||220||144|
|121||Albany, OR M.S.A.||257||211|
|1||Albuquerque, NM M.S.A.||9,235||1,018|
|69||Alexandria, LA M.S.A.||485||315|
|317||Altoona, PA M.S.A.||55||44|
|41||Amarillo, TX M.S.A.||1,027||390|
|262||Ames, IA M.S.A.||85||87|
|4||Anchorage, AK M.S.A.||2,143||679|
|220||Ann Arbor, MI M.S.A.||438||121|
We compiled vehicle theft data for 326 metropolitan statistical areas from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program for the most recent year data was available. Population figures are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. We excluded those areas that were determined by the FBI to be under- or overreporting thefts. Vehicle registration data for each state was collected from the Bureau of Transportation.