In 2019, a total of 721,885 vehicles were stolen in the United States. The average dollar cost per theft per vehicle was $8,886 that year, according to the Insurance Information Institute The FBI defines stolen vehicles as “a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and not on rails.” That includes a broad number of vehicles types from cars to snowmobiles. Three-quarters of these were automobiles.
As is the case with all crimes, the numbers of vehicle thefts and break-ins vary widely from state to state. A new study by Compare.com shows just how wide that range is. According to its “Where Cars are Most Susceptible to Crime” report:
For some cities, all data regarding vehicle theft and break-ins is freely available. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to get a detailed look at incident reports in a specific area. We took an in-depth look at these records, as well as metrics such as the times and days when these vehicle-related crimes occurred.
Among the findings were that the worst days for vehicle theft were Mondays and Fridays. The time vehicles are most likely to be stolen is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Unfortunately, the way the data were collected was uneven, and not nearly as complete as FBI figures. Instead, this study used “U.S. city open data portals for 18 of the largest cities in the U.S.” Even the definitions used from city to city were confusing.
The study looked at two metrics: thefts per 100,000 residents and the raw number of break-ins. On the first metric, the list was led by Denver at 5,139 vehicles and San Francisco at 4,794. These cities had the highest figures by far. Third place Philadelphia had 2,039, and the city with the lowest rate was New York at 50.