Vehicle Theft Statistics by State — and Most Stolen Cars and Motorcycles

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Motor vehicle thefts are on the rise, with a 25.1% increase since 2019. In fact, nearly 2 vehicles are stolen every minute. But where are vehicle thefts most common — and which makes are most often stolen?

This study goes over both motor vehicle thefts and motorcycle thefts. Additionally, stick around to learn about how your auto insurance handles motor theft.

Motor vehicle theft key findings

  • Motor vehicle thefts are up 25.1% since 2019. 1,001,967 vehicles were stolen in 2022, according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) analysis of data via the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which means 1.9 vehicles are stolen every minute. Preliminary 2022 data shows the states with the most motor vehicle thefts were California (202,685), Texas (105,015) and Washington (46,939).
  • 31 states saw a year-over-year increase in motor vehicle thefts in 2021 — the latest year for which data from every state is available. Vermont (57.2%) saw the biggest jump between 2020 and 2021, followed by Wisconsin (41.5%) and Colorado (31.8%). In contrast, motor vehicle thefts in this period decreased the most in West Virginia (11.9%), Alaska (11.2%) and Utah (9.1%).
  • The metro with the highest motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents is Bakersfield, Calif., at 1,023.7. Two Colorado metros, Denver and Pueblo, follow at 964.9 and 891.4, respectively. The metros with the biggest year-over-year changes in motor vehicle thefts between 2020 and 2021 were Williamsport, Pa. (92.1%), Ithaca, N.Y. (82.8%), and Utica, N.Y. (80.1%).
  • 48,206 full-size Chevrolet pickups were stolen in 2021, making it the most stolen car in 15 states. While full-size Ford pickups were the second most-stolen vehicle in 2021 at 47,999, they were the top vehicle taken in 20 states. Honda Civics were the third-most stolen car at 31,673. The recovery rate in 2021 for motor vehicles reported stolen within the first 24 hours was 34%, according to an NICB analysis.

Motorcycle theft key findings

  • Motorcycle thefts are up 25.6% since 2019. 51,291 motorcycles were stolen in 2021 — the latest year for which motorcycle theft data is available — or 141 a day. Motorcycle thefts dropped by 3.4% between 2020 and 2021. 42% of motorcycles stolen in 2021 were recovered, according to an NICB analysis.
  • California led the U.S. with 9,345 motorcycles stolen in 2021. Texas (4,263) and Florida (3,698) follow.
  • Honda was the most stolen motorcycle brand in 2021 at 10,282. Yamaha (8,185) and Kawasaki (5,904) follow.
  • August is the month when the most motorcycle thefts occur (5,693). September (5,540) and July (5,476) follow.

Motor vehicle thefts are up 25.1% since 2019

Since 2019, motor vehicle thefts have risen by 25.1%. In total, 1,001,967 vehicles were stolen in 2022 — or 1.9 every minute.

According to ValuePenguin auto insurance expert Divya Sangameshwar, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely a key factor in the large increase since 2019.

"The increase in car thefts is seen as an unpleasant byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic," she says. "With a large volume of cars left parked in place due to work-from-home mandates and business shutdowns, cars became easy targets for thieves — who stole cars to make a quick buck from the increase in demand for used cars and spare parts."

Additionally, the pandemic indirectly led to a reduction in law enforcement and an increase in car prices across the U.S., which may have encouraged motor thefts. In fact, 2020 saw the largest year-over-year rise in motor vehicle thefts dating to 2007, jumping 10.9%.

Motor vehicle thefts by year

Year
Estimated total thefts
% change
20071,095,769N/A
2008958,629-12.5%
2009795,652-17.0%
2010737,142-7.4%
2011715,373-3.0%
2012721,0530.8%
2013699,594-3.0%
2014689,527-1.4%
2015707,7582.6%
2016765,4848.2%
2017833,7408.9%
2018819,988-1.6%
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) data obtained via the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

As for the states with the most thefts, preliminary 2022 data from 10 reporting states shows California ranks first — so far, the Golden State reported 202,685 motor vehicle thefts in 2022. That’s followed by Texas (105,015) and Washington (46,939).

California and Texas have significantly larger populations than most states, which may contribute to the higher number of thefts there. In fact, according to a ValuePenguin analysis of car ownership statistics, both states lead the nation with the most registered vehicles.

In Washington, a new law limiting police pursuits (which went into effect in July 2021) may contribute to the spike in thefts here. The new law states that police can’t pursue a suspect in a vehicle without probable cause, even if they believe they have the suspect.

States with the most estimated vehicle thefts in 2022

Rank
State
Total estimated thefts
1California202,685
2Texas105,015
3Washington46,939
4Florida45,973
5Colorado42,237
6Illinois38,649
7Ohio29,913
8Missouri29,345
9New York28,292
10Georgia26,529

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC. Note: Data is preliminary, meaning these numbers may change. Data was only provided for these 10 states.

When do these thefts occur? Perhaps unsurprisingly, motor vehicle thieves strike at night. Based on available data from the FBI, the most motor vehicle thefts occur from midnight to 12:59 a.m., when there were 38,819 thefts in 2021. The next most common time was 10 p.m. to 10:59 p.m., when 30,209 occurred.

It’s important to note that the number of motor vehicle thefts differs widely between the FBI and NICB analyses. While we found the NICB analysis to be more accurate overall, the FBI data can highlight trends not available via the other.

Motor vehicle thefts by time of day, 2021

Time of day
Motor vehicle thefts
Total554,618
Total thefts during a.m. hours235,348
Midnight to 12:59 a.m.38,819
1 a.m. to 1:59 a.m.16,134
2 a.m. to 2:59 a.m.14,475
3 a.m. to 3:59 a.m.12,908
4 a.m. to 4:59 a.m.12,485
5 a.m. to 5:59 a.m.14,367
6 a.m. to 6:59 a.m.17,980
7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m.21,040
8 a.m. to 8:59 a.m.24,820
9 a.m. to 9:59 a.m.21,200
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of FBI data. Note: Information is based on available data reported by law enforcement agencies.

Which states saw the biggest year-over-year jump in thefts?

Overall, 31 states saw a year-over-year increase in motor vehicle thefts between 2020 and 2021 (the latest year for which data from every state is available). Of these, Vermont saw the biggest jump — 57.2%.

Following Vermont, Wisconsin (41.5%) and Colorado (31.8%) saw significant year-over-year jumps in motor vehicle thefts.

States with the biggest year-over-year increases in motor vehicle thefts

Rank
State
2021 thefts
% change from 2020
1Vermont62157.2%
2Wisconsin13,95741.5%
3Colorado38,43031.8%
4Washington35,74626.1%
5Oregon20,00622.5%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

In contrast, motor vehicle thefts in this period decreased the most in West Virginia (11.9%), Alaska (11.2%) and Utah (9.1%). According to the ValuePenguin analysis of car ownership statistics, West Virginia and Utah have a relatively low rate of registered vehicles, at 92 per 100 people in West Virginia and 79 in Utah. Meanwhile, Alaska is among the states with the lowest car access rate, with 9% of homes here not having a car.

States with the biggest year-over-year decreases in motor vehicle thefts

Rank
State
2021 thefts
% change from 2020
1West Virginia2,297-11.9%
2Alaska1,756-11.2%
3Utah8,538-9.1%
4Connecticut7,771-9.0%
5Iowa5,913-7.3%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Full rankings: Year-over-year changes in motor vehicle thefts by state

Rank
State
2021 thefts
% change from 2020
1Vermont62157.2%
2Wisconsin13,95741.5%
3Colorado38,43031.8%
4Washington35,74626.1%
5Oregon20,00622.5%
6New Jersey14,81821.8%
7Hawaii3,31321.7%
8Wyoming93721.5%
9Maine83317.5%
10Nevada13,41716.9%
11New Hampshire85816.3%
12Pennsylvania18,04416.2%
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Bakersfield, Calif., has the highest motor vehicle theft rate

To break down thefts even further, the metro with the highest motor vehicle theft rate is Bakersfield, Calif., at 1,023.7 per 100,000 residents. Two Colorado metros — Denver (964.9) and Pueblo (891.4) — follow.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint why these metros rank highest, it’s worth noting that crime rates generally tend to be higher in urban areas like these.

Metros with the highest rate of motor vehicle thefts in 2021

Rank
Metro
Theft rate per 100,000 residents
Total cars stolen
1Bakersfield, CA1,023.79,394
2Denver, CO964.928,683
3Pueblo, CO891.41,512
4Albuquerque, NM710.66,525
5Portland, OR680.217,084

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

While those metros had the highest motor vehicle theft rates, they’re not the ones with the biggest year-over-year changes. Between 2020 and 2021, vehicle thefts jumped the most in Williamsport, Pa., rising by 92.1%. That’s followed by Ithaca, N.Y. (82.8%), and Utica, N.Y. (80.1%).

Metros with the highest year-over-year changes in motor vehicle thefts

Rank
Metro
% change between 2020 and 2021
1Williamsport, PA92.1%
2Ithaca, NY82.8%
3Utica, NY80.1%
4Cheyenne, WY72.7%
5Milwaukee, WI72.0%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Full rankings: Metros with the highest rate of motor vehicle thefts in 2021

Rank
Metro
Theft rate per 100,000 residents
Total cars stolen
1Bakersfield, CA1,023.79,394
2Denver, CO964.928,683
3Pueblo, CO891.41,512
4Albuquerque, NM710.66,525
5Portland, OR680.217,084
6San Francisco, CA675.931,247
7Billings, MT611.11,143
8Milwaukee, WI597.89,365
9Seattle, WA582.523,366
10Yuba City, CA578.71,056
11Merced, CA553.01,584
12Los Angeles, CA549.571,422
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Full rankings: Metros with the highest year-over-year change in motor vehicle thefts

Rank
Metro
% change between 2020 and 2021
1Williamsport, PA92.1%
2Ithaca, NY82.8%
3Utica, NY80.1%
4Cheyenne, WY72.7%
5Milwaukee, WI72.0%
6Wenatchee, WA68.7%
7Mount Vernon, WA65.6%
8Great Falls, MT64.2%
9Glens Falls, NY63.0%
10Burlington, VT60.5%
11Bremerton, WA52.3%
12Charlottesville, VA48.3%
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Chevrolet pickups are the most stolen car in 15 states

Which vehicles do (alleged) thieves prefer? As it turns out, pickup trucks are the most commonly stolen vehicle. In 2021, 48,206 full-size Chevrolet pickups were stolen — making it the most stolen car in 15 states. Chevrolet pickups are the most commonly stolen car in the state with the fifth-biggest year-over-year increase in motor vehicle thefts: Oregon.

Following that, full-size Ford pickups were the second most-stolen vehicle in 2021, accounting for 47,999 thefts. They were the top vehicle taken in 20 states. Full-size Ford pickups are the most commonly stolen car in the states with the third- and fourth-biggest year-over-year increases in motor vehicle thefts: Colorado and Washington.

Meanwhile, Honda Civics were the third-most stolen car, accounting for 31,673 thefts.

The reason for these rankings? It may boil down to popularity. All three vehicles are among the most searched in the U.S., according to a 2020 ValuePenguin study on car searches. Car thieves, in some cases, may target specific car models that are popular or in high demand, regardless of their value.

Additionally, older vehicle models are most often stolen — which could largely be because older cars are often easier to steal as they lack advanced anti-theft deterrents. It’s also worth noting that 3 in 4 vehicles stolen are cars (based on available data from the FBI), despite making up just 38% of all registered vehicles.

Most stolen cars in 2021

Rank
Vehicle make/model
Total thefts
Model year most often stolen
1Chevrolet pickup (full size)48,2062004
2Ford pickup (full size)47,9992006
3Honda Civic31,6732000
4Honda Accord30,2741997
5Toyota Camry17,2702007
6GMC pickup (full size)15,5992005
7Nissan Altima14,1082020
8Honda CR-V13,3082000
9Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee13,2102018
10Toyota Corolla12,9272020

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

While having a vehicle stolen is never fun, there’s one silver lining: In 2021, the recovery rate for motor vehicles reported stolen within the first 24 hours was 34%, according to an NICB analysis.

Full rankings: The most stolen vehicles in each state in 2021

State
Vehicle
Model year most often stolen
Thefts
AlabamaChevrolet pickup (full size)2005605
AlaskaChevrolet pickup (full size)2005179
ArizonaChevrolet pickup (full size)20061,530
ArkansasChevrolet pickup (full size)2007528
CaliforniaChevrolet pickup (full size)200115,462
ColoradoFord pickup (full size)20042,760
ConnecticutHonda Accord2017490
DelawareHonda Accord201389
District of ColumbiaToyota Camry2020271
FloridaFord pickup (full size)20061,876
GeorgiaFord pickup (full size)20051,132
HawaiiFord pickup (full size)2004183
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Motorcycle thefts are up 25.6% since 2019 — here’s how they compare to motor vehicle thefts

Similar to motor vehicle thefts, motorcycle thefts have risen by 25.6% since 2019. In 2021 (the latest year for which motorcycle theft data is available), there were 51,291 motorcycles stolen, or 141 a day.

Like motor vehicle thefts, pandemic-related reductions in law enforcement and an increase in motorcycle sales likely play a role here. While motorcycle thefts spiked by 30.1% in 2020, it’s worth noting that they dropped 3.4% between 2020 and 2021.

Motorcycle thefts by year

Year
Motorcycles stolen
% change
201646,467N/A
201744,268-4.7%
201841,674-5.9%
201940,830-2.0%
202053,11130.1%
202151,291-3.4%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Here’s more good news: 42% of motorcycles stolen in 2021 were recovered, according to an NICB analysis.

Regarding which states have the highest rate of motorcycle theft, California leads again with 9,345 stolen in 2021. That’s followed by Texas (4,263) and Florida (3,698). Like motor vehicle thefts, higher populations may be to blame for motorcycle thefts here.

States with the highest motorcycle theft rate in 2021

Rank
State
Thefts
Thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles
1California9,3459.8
2Texas4,26311.2
3Florida3,6985.7
4New York2,6627.3
5Washington1,9478.0

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Honda takes the lead when it comes to the brand most commonly stolen. In 2021, 10,282 Honda motorcycles were stolen. That’s followed by Yamaha (8,185) and Kawasaki (5,904). Notably, all three brands are among the most popular.

Since thieves typically target older vehicles, it’s also worth noting that the average age of motorcycles on the road is 13.1 years, with half being 13 years old.

Top 5 motorcycle makes stolen in 2021

Rank
Make
Thefts
1Honda10,282
2Yamaha8,185
3Kawasaki5,904
4Harley-Davidson5,811
5Suzuki4,890

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

When do most motorcycle thefts occur? August is when most motorcycle thefts occur, accounting for 5,693 thefts in 2021. One possible reason is that August is a popular month for motorcycle riding, with many riders taking long trips and attending rallies and events — increasing exposure and risk of theft.

Following August, the most motorcycle thefts occurred in September (5,540) and July (5,476). Good weather may play a role here, as motorcyclists may be more inclined to take their bikes out in warm, sunny months.

Top 5 months for motorcycle thefts in 2021

Rank
Month
Thefts
1August5,693
2September5,540
3July5,476
4October5,086
5June4,865

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

Although California has the highest rate of motorcycle thefts, it’s not the state with the most motorcycles per resident. The states with the most motorcycles per 1,000 residents are Montana (63.5), New Hampshire (61.5) and South Dakota (57.9). In contrast, the states with the fewest motorcycles per 1,000 residents are the District of Columbia (7.3), Texas (13.2) and New Jersey (16.7). The national rate is 26.0 per 1,000 residents.

Full rankings: States with the highest rate of registered motorcycles

Rank
State
Population
2021 registered motorcycles
Registered motorcycles per 1,000 residents
1Montana1,077,97868,43963.5
2New Hampshire1,372,17584,45361.5
3South Dakota881,78551,02657.9
4Wisconsin5,871,661319,90754.5
5Iowa3,179,090168,41353.0
6North Dakota773,34435,37345.7
7Maine1,357,04659,99544.2
8Wyoming576,64125,17743.7
9Idaho1,811,61769,00938.1
10Minnesota5,670,472203,52135.9
11Vermont641,63722,84835.6
12Colorado5,723,176201,36435.2
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Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NICB data obtained via the NCIC.

How auto insurance treats motor theft: Expert tips

Nobody expects to have their car or motorcycle stolen — so it may be difficult to know what to do if it is. According to Sangameshwar, there are a few key things you should know about how your car insurance treats motor theft:

  • Your car insurance will only cover a stolen vehicle if you have comprehensive coverage. "Comprehensive insurance will also cover a stolen stereo, catalytic converter or anything else that is a part of your car," she says. "Other types of coverage, like liability and collision coverage, don't cover a stolen car."
  • It's best to file a police report within 24 hours of the car theft. "The faster the police can begin searching for your stolen car, the more likely they are to find it," Sangameshwar says. "It also means you'll be able to start the claim process sooner. When filing your police report, be thorough and honest. You don’t want to be caught in a lie when the police investigate. Unfortunately, because some people lie about their car being stolen to commit insurance fraud, the police will need to rule you out as a suspect."
  • After filing your report, immediately notify your auto insurance company to start the claim process. "Your auto insurance company will ask for information like the police report, your car’s title, location of all the keys before and after the theft, the details of everyone who has access to your car, a description of your vehicle, your insurance policy account number and more," she says. "They’ll use this information to evaluate your insurance claim and decide its payout offer."
  • Your insurance company may also run a credit check to verify your financial standing. "If you have significant debt and file a claim for a stolen vehicle, it may raise questions about whether you're trying to commit fraud, and it could increase the likelihood of your claim being denied," she says.

Methodology

ValuePenguin researchers analyzed motor vehicle and motorcycle thefts compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) via the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Additional data is via the FBI.

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