Criminals Don't Take a Holiday: The 11 Biggest Holidays for Auto Theft

img1289138708 1540936285469 jpg photo illustration by Paul Dolan with National Insurance Crime Bureau data

Halloween may be the scariest night of the year, but it’s no longer the holiday you need to be most afraid of your car being stolen on. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual report on holiday auto theft, that dishonorable distinction now belongs to New Year’s Day — so while you’re popping the cork on Jan. 1, there’s an increased likelihood someone may be boosting your car.

Related: How to Avoid Holiday Car Theft

New Year’s Day typically is no slouch when it comes to cars being stolen. The 2017 list (using 2016 theft-report data from the National Crime Information Center database) ranked it No. 3 on NICB’s list. This year, using 2017 figures, New Year’s Day ascends to No. 1 with 2,469 auto-theft reports. That’s a nearly 11 percent spike compared with the daily average for that year of 2,228, and it comprises 128 more theft reports than the monthly average for January of 2,341.

Not a great way to ring in the new year, huh? Unless you’re Halloween, that is, which drops to No. 3 on the list with 2,297 car thefts as its auto-theft incidences dip by nearly 11 percent. Still, All Hallows’ Eve remained slight above both the monthly and daily averages by 33 and 69 thefts, respectively.

“Halloween, the No. 1 holiday for vehicle thefts in the last report, falls to No. 3 in today’s report,” NICB said in a statement. “An improvement, but witches will certainly trade their brooms for nice cars if we leave them vulnerable. NICB reminds drivers to be vigilant and to secure their cars at all times when unattended.”

The only other two holidays this time out on which auto thefts outnumber those of the daily average for the year are Presidents Day, at No. 2 with 2,312 cars reported stolen, and Memorial Day, with 2,290. (So are we to glean from this that criminals are not celebrating the leaders of our nation and those who defend it? It’s not part of the NICB study, so we’re only left to speculate.)

Here’s NICB’s full list of holiday car thefts:

1. New Year’s Day, 2,469 thefts

2. Presidents Day, 2,312

3. Halloween, 2,297

4. Memorial Day, 2,290

* 2017 daily average, 2,228

5. Labor Day, 2,180

6. Valentine’s Day, 2,169

7. Independence Day, 2,124

8. New Year’s Eve, 1,962

9. Christmas Eve, 1,737

10. Thanksgiving, 1,682

11. Christmas Day, 1,548

It should be noted that this year’s report represents a minor increase in holiday car theft compared to last year’s. In 2016, NICB reported 22,705 car thefts on the 11 holidays included in the report; that’s compared with 2017’s 22,770 incidents, which is a scant 65 more holiday auto thefts, a 0.3 percent rise. It should also be noted that Black Friday has proven itself to be real steal for criminals in the past: The annual post-Thanksgiving Christmas-shopping free-for-all may not be a holiday, but in 2015 it logged 2,244 stolen-car reports — so watch your wheels while you’re hunting for deals.

It’s fortunate for car owners that modern anti-theft technologies have generally made new cars extremely difficult to steal by traditional methods (though criminals have come up with more innovative approaches in recent years). All you can really do as a car owner is take common-sense precautions to protect your vehicle — starting with not leaving your keys in the car, the incidence of which increased by 22 percent in 2015. Here are some other obvious-but-somehow-still-necessary tips:

  • Always lock your car.
  • Invest in a car alarm and use it.
  • Never leave the car unlocked and running while unattended.
  • Never leave the garage-door opener in the car.
  • Take a photo of your car’s registration on your smartphone and avoid leaving such document or other personal info in the vehicle.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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