U.S. cities with the highest car theft rate in 2023

Pueblo, Colorado, is the city with the most car thefts, with an auto theft rate of 1,086.44 thefts per 100,000 residents. Car theft is a problem in Colorado, which topped the list of states with the most car thefts as well.

Bakersfield, California, moved down a spot; it’s now the second-worst metro for car thefts, with a theft rate of 1072.36. Bakersfield was the number one city for three years in a row, but despite moving down, the car theft rate is still up year over year.

There are a few new metro areas in the top 10 this year. NICB’s data showed that Memphis, including the multiple states it straddles, moved into the top ten this year, landing in the fourth place. Also new to the list since last year are Greeley, Colorado, and Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas.

Meanwhile, Billings, Montana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Yuba City, California, both fell off the list from last year.

It should be noted that MSAs are not specific cities. Some MSAs are made up of more than one city and are more commonly called metro areas.

Top 10 metro areas for car theft

These metro areas had the most stolen cars in 2022.

RankCBSA/MSA2022 theft rate2021 theft rate
1Pueblo, CO1086.44891.39
2Bakersfield, CA1072.361023.68
3Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO1062.67964.92
4Memphis, TN-MS-AR845.68710.58
5Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA796.94680.20
6Albuquerque, NM795.18675.86
7Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA758.68611.11
8San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA699.30597.83
9Greeley, CO589.42582.47
10Kansas City, MO-KS572.67578.68

*theft rate per 100,000 residents

Top 10 states for car theft

These are the top 10 states for stolen cars in 2023.

RankState2021 theft rate2020 theft rate
2Washington, D.C.700.06651
5New Mexico540.57471.16

*theft rate per 100,000 residents

Top 10 most stolen cars

Now that you know which cities have the most car theft, let's look at the vehicles that car thieves are most likely to steal. The Chevy full-size pickup was the vehicle most likely to be stolen, the same as last year. The Ford full-size pickup remained in second place.

However, trucks are down to 25% of all vehicles stolen in 2022 from 33% in 2021.

Here are the 10 most common vehicles stolen in 2022, according to The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB):

RankVehicle make/model2022 total theftsModel year most often stolen
1Chevrolet Pickup (Full size)49,9032004
2Ford Pickup (Full size)48,1752006
3Honda Civic27,1132000
4Honda Accord27,0891997
5Hyundai Sonata21,7072013
6Hyundai Elantra19,6022017
7Kia Optima18,2212015
8Toyota Camry17,0942021
9GMC Pickup (Full size)16,6222005
10Honda CR-V12,9272001

What are the safest cities for car theft?

The NICB car theft data indicated that the following are the cities with the least car theft, listed by metro area with the least thefts first:

RankMetro areaCar theft rate, 2022*
1Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI0
2State College, PA17.67
3Gettysburg, PA26.41
4Barnstable town, MA29.26
5Glenn Falls, NY30.81
6Watertown-Fort Drum, NY34.29
7Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA34.42
8Midland. MI34.66
9Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA38.55
10Logan, UT-ID40.55

*Per 100,000 population

This table includes only cities on the mainland, Hawaii and Alaska and excludes U.S. territories.

How to prevent car theft

The NICB offers a four-pronged approach to preventing thefts:

  • Remove your keys, roll up the windows, lock the doors and park in well-lit areas.
  • Deploy a visible or audible device warning that your car is protected – a steering-wheel lock or an audible alarm.
  • Install an immobilizing device that keeps thieves from starting the car – smart keys, kill switches, fuse cut-offs and fuel-pump disablers.
  • Utilize devices that track and recover a stolen car, such as onboard telematics systems.

It appears that car theft numbers will most likely continue to rise in 2022. According to the NICB, roughly 500,000 vehicles were stolen in the first half of 2022, which breaks down to almost $4.5 billion worth of vehicle losses.

While it’s impossible to determine the reason for every vehicle theft, high used car prices have been blamed for many thefts.

“There is very little deterrent to stopping these criminals because vehicle thefts are property crimes,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in a recent press release. “Since the start of the pandemic, used car prices have increased 35 to 40 percent. Criminals are exploiting these high prices as vehicle and catalytic converter thefts are crimes of opportunity. And crime is a business, and business is good.”

What should you do if your car is stolen in one of these cities?

Regardless of where you live or what type of car you drive, it’s important to know what to do if your car is stolen.

The first thing you should do is call the police to report the theft. Once you've completed the police report, call your insurance company. The claims representative will provide you with the next steps.

Car insurance and car theft

You’ll need comprehensive coverage for your car insurance to cover a stolen car. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, your lender will require you to carry full coverage, including comprehensive.

Comprehensive is a relatively small part of most drivers' premiums and will pay out the actual cash value of your car if it's stolen. This optional coverage comes with a deductible, the portion you pay on a claim before insurance kicks in to cover the balance. Deductibles vary, but $500 is a common amount.

Auto insurance FAQs

What percent of stolen cars are recovered?

According to the NICB data, if reported stolen within 24 hours, there was a 34% recovery rate in 2021. Nationwide, approximately 42% of stolen cars are never recovered, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the California Highway Patrol's 2021 Vehicle Theft report, roughly 88.1% of stolen vehicles in California were recovered. However, just because they were found doesn't mean they were in the same condition as when they were stolen. According to the CHP:

  • 60.2% were recovered intact and in drivable condition
  • 3.8% were missing major components
  • 9.4% were stripped of minor parts
  • 26.5% were intentionally burned or wrecked.

How does a stolen car affect insurance rates?

In most cases, a stolen car claim on your policy will raise your rates, but the severity of the increase will depend on your specific insurance company. Insurance companies have proprietary surcharge schedules, which will determine your rate increase after an issue such as a speeding ticket, an accident or a claim for car theft.

Does living in one of the cities with the highest car theft rate affect my car insurance rates?

Insurance companies consider a variety of factors when calculating a car insurance premium. These factors include not only your driving record and the type of vehicle you are driving but also where you live and where your vehicle is stored.

If you live in a high-crime area, you will pay more for car insurance. In most cases, drivers in major urban areas will pay more for coverage than drivers in rural areas. Statistics show that more car accidents and thefts occur in cities.

Finally, you will pay more for coverage if your vehicle spends the night parked on the street instead of in a garage. All of these location factors will impact your car insurance rates.