Motor vehicle theft is a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NICB, an anti-crime and insurance fraud nonprofit organization, 932,329 vehicles were reported stolen to law enforcement in 2021 – up 6% from the previous year and up 17% from 2019.
The trend is likely due to several factors. First, during the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicles were more likely to be left sitting unattended and unused for longer than usual. Additionally, newer vehicles that use keyless entry and push-button ignitions can be more susceptible to theft, as criminals can use a tool to amplify a key fob’s signal. This can allow thieves to unlock and start a vehicle without having the key fob on their person. (Here is a look at the least reliable cars in America.)
While motorists nationwide now face a greater risk of vehicle theft than they have in many years, in some parts of the country, car owners are far more likely to be victims of car theft than in others.
Using 2021 data from the NICB, 24/7 Wall St. identified the city in each state with the highest motor vehicle theft rate. Within each state, we ranked metropolitan areas on the number of reported car thefts for every 100,000 people in 2021.
In nearly every metro area on this list, the auto theft rate exceeds the statewide rate. It is important to note, however, that car theft rates vary considerably from one state to the next. Colorado, for example, leads the nation with about 661 reported car thefts for every 100,000 people. Meanwhile, in states like Maine and New Hampshire, car theft rates are less than one-tenth the rate of Colorado’s, at about 61 and 62 thefts per 100,000 people, respectively.
Partly because motor vehicle theft is less common in some parts of the country than others, a city’s ranking on this list does not necessarily mean car theft is a major problem relative to the national average. In 15 metro areas on this list, the auto theft rate is below the national rate of about 281 car thefts per 100,000 people. (Here is a look at the worst cities to drive in every state.)
Click here to see the cities in every state with the most car theft.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.
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