Which States Have the Highest, Lowest Car Theft Rates?

Chart_vehicle-theft_3.2_f.jpg map by Paul Dolan

CARS.COM — Crime overall has declined dramatically since the early 1990s, and generally continues to slide. But according to the latest national crime figures from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report released last month, the first half of 2015 shows an increase in stolen cars.

Related: Lojack Report Shows Smarter Thieves Targeting Pricier Cars

Compared with January through June of the previous year, motor vehicle thefts are up by 1 percent. That’s despite property crimes in all other categories of the UCR — calculated from local and regional crime stats submitted to the FBI by thousands of law-enforcement agencies across the nation — continuing to drop. Burglary was down nearly 10 percent and larceny theft by more than 3 percent versus the same period a year earlier.

While all categories of violent crime also saw a surprising uptick, a surge in vehicle theft wasn’t unexpected by everyone. The crime-stats crunchers at the Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Insurance Crime Bureau previously projected an increase in auto theft of as much as 9 percent for the first half of 2015. The NICB said anti-theft technologies that had been keeping car thieves at bay in recent years have led the invention of new ways to steal cars, increasingly focusing, for example, on rental-fleet scams and falsified titles.

Moreover, motor vehicle theft over the past decade has not fallen off as precipitously as others of its ilk. Property crimes over the past 10 years dipped by about 19 percent, while auto theft went down less than 2 percent.

Still, it is possible that the trend could reverse; the figures from the first six months of last year still are preliminary and subject to change. As of 2014 — the most recent full year of available data — per capita auto theft was still on the downslope across the nation.

Based on each state’s number of incidents per 100,000 residents, as calculated by the FBI’s annual report for 2014, the states (including the District of Columbia) with the highest car theft rates are:

10. Georgia; 26,854 thefts; 266.0 thefts per 100,000 residents
9. South Carolina; 12,902 thefts; 267.0
8. Missouri; 16,357 thefts; 269.8
7. Oklahoma; 10,583 thefts; 272.9
6. Hawaii; 3,879 thefts; 273.3
5. New Mexico; 6,290 thefts; 301.6
4. Nevada; 10,185 thefts; 358.7
3. California; 151,852 thefts; 391.3
2. Washington; 30,647 thefts; 434.0
1. District of Columbia; 3,783 thefts; 574.1

The states with the lowest auto-theft rates are:

10. South Dakota; 1,007 thefts; 118.0
9. Wyoming; 603 thefts; 103.2
8. West Virginia; 1,896 thefts; 102.5
7. Pennsylvania; 13,040 thefts; 102.0
6. Idaho; 1,661 thefts; 101.6
5. Virginia; 7,665 thefts; 92.1
4. New York; 15,736 thefts; 79.7
3. New Hampshire; 857 thefts; 64.6
2. Maine; 799 thefts; 60.1
1. Vermont; 244 thefts; 38.9

Ready for more car theft coverage from Find out if your hometown is one of the top 10 cities with the highest auto theft rates, or find out the most stolen car in your state. And check out these statistics on holiday motor vehicle thefts to help prevent your car from ending up on a thief’s shopping list.’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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