The 10 Most Stolen Cars in America (Updated 2020)

Not all cars are created equal when it comes to susceptibility to theft.

According to the NICB’s latest Hot Wheels report, 748,841 vehicles were stolen in 2018, down 3 percent since the previous year. This change is consistent with downward trends in car thefts over the last almost-three decades. Since 1991 when car thefts reached their peak, automotive theft in the United States has decreased fifty-five percent. Even so, this crime is still a significant issue affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans. On average, 2052 cars are stolen every day. Considered another way, that’s over 85 car thefts per hour.

Car theft in popular culture usually involves elaborate heists and high-speed chases with sporty roadsters or sleek sedans with six- or seven-figure price tags. The reality is much less glamorous; professional car thieves generally are uninterested in jacking the latest McLaren or Bentley. Instead, they target popular and long-standing model lines, such as the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. These cars are then dismantled and sold for parts on the black market. Parts for popular models are in high demand due to the multitude of owners with the same model, and they generate more money than the value of the car intact. High demand for parts makes these cars lucrative targets for thieves.

The inconvenience of abruptly finding oneself carless is only a small consequence of car theft. Insurance premiums increase significantly after the incident, not to mention the deductible a victim will pay to replace their stolen car. Not only is the victim of a car theft affected, but whole communities feel the repercussions. Car theft increases crime rates, as thieves will often use stolen cars to commit additional crimes.

In the interest of public safety and awareness, this study concludes with concrete and cost-effective steps to prevent car theft.

Insights 

  • Pickup poachers: Pickup trucks are the car model of choice for many thieves. Not only do their parts sell for a premium on the black market, but car thieves prefer to use this body style as storage for future crime sprees. Pickup trucks are disproportionately represented in theft rates, as they make up four of the ten most stolen models in America. They’re also the most stolen body type in thirty of all fifty states. 
  • Regional patterns in body style preference: Whereas the most stolen cars by state are generally sedans in states along the Northeast and West Coast, pickups tend to be stolen the most nearly everywhere else. The map above has been color-coded to illustrate these regional patterns: warm tones represent sedans, and cool tones represent pickups.
  • In some states, thieves leap for Impalas: The Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Caravan, and Toyota Tacoma do not rank within the 10 most stolen cars. Yet, Impalas are the most stolen cars in Illinois and Michigan. Dodge Caravans are stolen most frequently in Wisconsin, while Tacomas are stolen most frequently in Vermont. 
  • Are newer anti-theft systems really as effective as advertised? It’s commonly believed that thieves target older cars because of their less advanced security systems… but four of the ten most stolen models on this list are from 2017 and 2018.  

Methodology

The data scientists at Insurify, an insurance quotes comparison website, referred to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest Hot Wheels report to determine the ten most stolen vehicles in the nation. This report includes data on the number of thefts and the most stolen model year. 

Insurify’s data scientists were curious to discover how often each of the top 10 cars are stolen in the United States. To do so, they calculated theft rates per 1,000 of each car model. First, they determined the proportion of each of the ten most stolen cars to all other car models. These proportions were determined based on the prevalence of each car model in Insurify’s proprietary database of over 2 million insurance applications. Then, they calculated the total number of each of the top ten car models on the road, by applying those proportions to the total number of cars on the road in the United States (272.48 million, according to the latest report by Statista). From these totals, they calculated rates of car theft per 1,000, based on the number of thefts for each model.

Top 10 Most Stolen Cars in America

10. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

  • Number of thefts: 9,818
  • Model year most stolen: 2000 (646 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 3

Even though the Cherokee is the only SUV to rank among the ten most stolen vehicles, it’s not hard to see why thieves target this car. Not only has the Jeep Cherokee been popular for decades, but like many of the other vehicles on the list, this durable vehicle is also distinguished for its longevity. If maintained properly, this car can reportedly last well over 300,000 miles. 

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9. Dodge Pickup (full size)

  • Number of thefts: 11,226
  • Model year most stolen: 2001 (1,155 thefts)
  • Thefts per 1,000: 3

Since last year, Dodge pickups have been bumped one ranking from eighth place to ninth, thanks to a 6.5 decrease in thefts of these powerful cars. Dodge pickup owners may want to breathe a little easier due to this decrease, but in general, pickups are still highly coveted by car thieves. It goes without saying that remaining vigilant is crucial.

8. GMC Pickup (Full size)

  • Number of thefts: 11,708
  • Model year most stolen: 2018 (1,170 thefts)
  • Thefts per 1,000: 6

Things don’t bode well this year for GMC pickup truck owners. GMC pickups may rank eighth on this list, but they have the highest theft rates, at six for every 1,000. On top of this grim statistic, the number of GMC pickup thefts has increased by 7.8 percent since last year.

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7. Toyota Corolla

  • Number of thefts: 12,388
  • Model year most stolen: 2017 (1,034 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 1.9

Thefts of the Toyota Corolla have remained about the same since last year, with only a 0.4 percent increase in incidence. Given the Corolla’s decades-long popular status among car owners, it’s not hard to see why this car consistently ranks high among car thieves taking advantage of the black market for parts.

6. Nissan Altima

  • Number of thefts: 13,284
  • Model year most stolen: 2017 (1,451 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 2

The Nissan Altima is one of four cars on this list whose newer model years are most frequently stolen. In fact, the 2017 Nissan Altima was the most stolen new model of 2017, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). Total Altima theft incidences have not changed much since last year. Only 74 fewer Altimas were stolen this year compared to last year, representing a mere 0.6 percent decrease. 

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5. Toyota Camry

  • Number of thefts: 16,906
  • Model year most stolen: 2017 (1,144 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 2

Theft rates of this popular sedan have decreased by only 2.2 percent since last year, but 2017 remains the most popular car year for thieves. The Camry is the fourth car on this list wherein recent model years are desirable to thieves, which begs the question: exactly how effective are newer antitheft systems at fending off professional thieves?

4. Chevrolet Pickup (Full-size)

  • Number of thefts: 31,566
  • Model year most stolen: 2004 (2,097 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 5

Chevy’s marketing campaigns tend to highlight the longevity of their pickups, which attracts car buyers and thieves alike. In fact, thefts of Chevy pickups have increased 5 percent since last year, a change that is consistent with upward trends in pickup truck thefts.

3. Ford Pickup (Full-size)

  • Number of thefts: 36,355
  • Model year most stolen: 2006 (3,173 thefts)
  • Thefts per 1,000: 5

We weren’t surprised to see Ford pickups ranking third this year. Notoriously easy to break into and highly sought-after on the black market for parts and whole vehicles, Ford pickups are the perfect target for a thief. Theft rates of Ford pickups have risen slightly, by 3.6 percent, since last year.

2. Honda Accord

  • Number of thefts: 36,815
  • Model year most stolen: 1997 (5,029 thefts) 
  • Thefts per 1,000: 4

Even though the Accord has maintained its second-place ranking since last year, thefts of America’s favorite car have decreased significantly since last year. It may be surprising to see that 1997 Accords remain the most stolen model year, despite being well over twenty years old. But to some unsavory types, the appeal of these cars is their age. 1997 Accords were built with a fatal flaw: as the ignition in these cars ages, it becomes so imprecise that anything fitting in the keyhole—including the handle of a spoon—is enough to start the engine.

1. Honda Civic

  • Number of thefts: 38,426
  • Model year most stolen: 2000 (5,290 thefts)
  • Thefts per 1,000: 5

Another Honda make is in the top 3 most stolen vehicles this year, the Civic. Although the Civic wins the notorious title for the most stolen vehicle of the year, one statistic is encouraging: in a similar trend to theft rates of the Honda Accord, Honda Civic thefts have decreased 14.7 percent since last year. 

Advice and Best Practices

How can you prevent car theft?

  • Never leave your car running and unattended: Don’t leave your vehicle running and unlocked. It takes only seconds for a thief to disappear with your car forever. Most thieves are seasoned professionals and can break into a car within a minute. 
  • Equip your vehicle with a warning device: Warning devices are your second line of defense against theft. Motion-sensing aftermarket alarms can be effective auditory warning devices, while steering wheel locks, brake pedal locks, or tire locks are excellent visual warning devices. Any of these is a strong indication to robbers that your vehicle is secure.
  • Install immobilizing devices: Most cars manufactured within the past decade have much more advanced security systems than their older counterparts. Yet, this may not be enough to deter a thief. Immobilizing devices like kill switches or fuse cut-offs significantly decrease the possibility of your car being stolen.
  • Use GPS tracking on your vehicle: A GPS or other wireless tracking device can be the difference between recovering your vehicle or losing it forever. Most GPS tracking devices cost between $50 and $150, and when compared to the cost of a stolen vehicle, a tracking device pays for itself many times over.

How to make sure you aren’t buying a stolen car 

  • Be especially vigilant when considering one of the car models in this ranking: If you’re in the market to buy one of the ten models listed above or one of the most stolen models in your state, it’s important to exercise extra vigilance. Most stolen cars end up dismantled for parts, but by no means do all stolen cars meet this fate. 
  • Do your research, and use good judgment: When considering a used car for sale, do some preliminary research on the seller beforehand, if possible. If the seller is a used car dealer, contact your local Better Business Bureau to check whether the dealership has a history of complaints. If purchasing from an individual seller, it may be challenging to assess their reputability, but we’ve provided additional steps to protect yourself from purchasing a stolen vehicle.
  • Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): Every vehicle has a Vehicle Identification Number. Composed of seventeen digits, this number acts as a car’s unique fingerprint. A car’s VIN should be visible through the dashboard on the driver’s side. Verify that the VIN number hasn’t been reported lost or stolen using the NICB’s VinCheck tool. 
  • Check for evidence of car cloning or other tampering: Sometimes, running the VIN number through a database is not enough. Some car thieves remove the VIN number from a stolen vehicle and then install a new VIN number in its place. These new VIN numbers are legitimate and come from a similar make and model–car thieves acquire these new numbers by copying a valid VIN number from a similar make and model, then counterfeiting and installing new VIN plates into the stolen vehicle. Verify that the VIN label is securely attached to your car, with no loose corners, as this could be a sign of tampering.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Updated January 7, 2020

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 1.9 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week.