Nationwide Auto Thefts Surpass One Million

First Time Since 2008 Numbers Have Been So High

For the first time in over a decade, nationwide auto theft numbers have surpassed the one million mark. Across the country, law enforcement agencies and communities continue to be plagued by record and near-record levels of vehicular crime with monthly theft totals nationwide consistently exceeding 75,000 in 2022.

“We are seeing vehicle theft numbers that we haven’t seen in nearly 15 years, and there is very little deterrent to stop criminals from committing these acts as they are just property crimes, like shoplifting,” said David J. Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “We must reinvest in local law enforcement, provide the necessary resources for prosecution and community policing programs, and implement early intervention programs given the high incidence of juvenile offenders involved in vehicle thefts.” 

The new analysis, conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry’s association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, found that more than 1 million vehicles were stolen last year, marking a 7% increase over 2021. 

The following chart highlights the increase in vehicle thefts over the past four years:

Year Estimated Total Thefts
2019 801,023
2020 888,011
2021 937,976
2022 1,001,967

Illinois, Washington State Report Largest Increases in Thefts Between 2021 and 2022

According to vehicle theft data provided by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and analyzed by NICB, over 250,000 thefts were reported in the fourth quarter of 2022 alone. California and Texas led the nation with the most reported stolen vehicles in 2022, and Illinois had the largest increase of any top 10 state with thefts increasing by an estimated 35% between 2021 and 2022. Similarly, vehicle thefts increased by 31% in Washington state over the same period.

The following is a list of the top 10 states with the largest percent change:

State 2021 Totals 2022 Totals Percent Change 2021-2022
California 201,034 202,685 1%
Texas 95,082 105,015 10%
Washington 35,921 46,939 31%
Florida 43,250 45,973 6%
Colorado 38,570 42,237 10%
Illinois 28,677 38,649 35%
Ohio 28,107 29,913 6%
Missouri 26,630 29,345 10%
New York 23,088 28,292 23%
Georgia 26,238 26,529 1%

5 Tips to pass on to your insureds

“NICB, along with our partners in law enforcement, are proactively working to prevent and deter vehicle theft, but vehicle owners should stay vigilant,” said Glawe. “Remember, practicing good personal security hygiene is an easy and effective first step all of us can take to protect ourselves and our vehicles. Don’t leave your car running and unattended. Always take your keys with you and most importantly, make sure your auto policy is up to date. It is that simple.” 

The following are five tips that the NCIB encourages that car owners keep in mind to avoid becoming a “victim of vehicle theft”:

  1. Always practice good security hygiene.
  2. Make sure your auto policy is up to date.
  3. Roll up your windows, lock your doors, and take the keys or fob.
  4. Park in well-lit areas and, when possible, areas staffed by security
  5. Park personal vehicles in a garage. If not possible, and vehicles must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice, making them leave the area and your vehicle untouched.

Should your vehicle be stolen, call law enforcement and your insurer immediately. Reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after it is stolen increases the chance of recovery.

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