Over 720,000 cars were stolen in the United States in 2019, or 220 motor vehicle thefts for every 100,000 Americans. Those thefts disproportionately occurred in the nation’s urban areas. In some cities, the motor vehicle theft rate was well over 1,000 per 100,000 residents, and in nearly every state, there was at least one city with a higher rate than the national average.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed property crime data from the FBI’s 2019 Uniform Crime Report to identify the American cities with the highest motor vehicle theft rate — the number of car thefts per 100,000 residents — in every state. We considered all cities, towns, villages, and Census designated places home to at least 20,000 people in our analysis. The most stolen vehicle in the state came from data compiled by insurance analytics group, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and is for 2018.
In general, the cities on this list with the highest motor vehicle theft rates — not just in their state, but nationwide — are in states with high auto theft rates. There are exceptions, though. Michigan falls among the lower half of states with a motor vehicle theft rate of 178 per 100,000 residents, but Detroit has over 1,000 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents, one of the highest figures of any large city in the country.
To give more perspective on how much of a vehicle theft hot spot some of the cities on this list are, 12 cities accounted for more than 25% of the motor vehicle theft in their state in 2019, and three of the cities on this list accounted for more than half the auto theft in their respective states.
Motor vehicle theft, along with burglary and larceny, make up the broader property crime category as measured by law enforcement agencies and compiled by the FBI. Motor vehicle theft is the least common of the three. Still, many of the cities on this list also rank as having among the highest property crime rates in their state. While property crime does not necessarily occur in places with high violent crime, many of these cities also have among the highest violent crime rates in their state. These are the most dangerous cities in America.