Cities & States with the Most Vehicle Thefts

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The country has experienced a wave of motor vehicle thefts that kicked off in 2020 – and it continues to grow.

To better understand the recent crime wave, researchers at analyzed data from the FBI and US Census Bureau and found the following trends.

Thefts spiked during COVID-19 and continues to grow

Despite vehicle thefts remaining flat from 2013 to 2019, car thefts are up nearly 35% over the past 10 years.

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Vehicle thefts in Colorado & New York are up 2X since COVID-19

Since 2019, Vehicle thefts in Colorado and New York have more than doubled while states like Florida and Alabama have experienced a decrease in thefts by 24% and 22% respectively.

On a per capita basis, Colorado also leads the way with 786 vehicle thefts per 100k. The state is followed by Washington with 639 thefts per 100k and Oregon with 552 per 100k.

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Cities in the West and Midwest are hotspots for vehicle thefts

Four out of the top 5 cities with the highest vehicle thefts per 100k were in the West or Midwest.

  1. Tacoma, WA – 2,694 thefts per 100k
  2. St. Louis, MO – 2,550 thefts per 100k
  3. Denver, CO – 2,155 thefts per 100k
  4. Oakland, CA – 1,797 thefts per 100k
  5. Memphis, TN – 1,748 thefts per 100k

Economic factors don’t appear to explain differences in vehicle theft rates

Although high-income cities typically have low theft rates, most cities with low rates of vehicle theft are in low-income areas – suggesting that low-income areas don’t need to tolerate high theft rates.

Full Data

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Vehicle theft data and population data was sourced from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Data Explorer while median income was sourced from the US Census Bureau.

Large cities were defined as cities with a population over 350,000; mid-size cities as populations from 150,000-349,999; and small cities as populations under 150,000.

About the Author
Kyle Fretwell of
Kyle Fretwell has worked as a researcher and data journalist for over a decade. His work has appeared in publications such as Bloomberg, Fox Business, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, and the Houston Chronicle.

He now manages's content team and is a regular fixture at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

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