Legislatures React to Trends in Vehicle Thefts

By Chris Longino

There is a growing epidemic of vehicle thefts happening across the country. From 2020 to 2022, vehicle thefts have increased by 13% in the U.S. Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles increased by 95% in 2022, due, in part, to a scheme that originated on social media. Criminal groups perpetuating these crimes have become more organized and more violent in their tactics. This has forced state and federal legislators to formulate and enact bills attempting to combat this growing problem. 

As one of the core policy issues related to NICB’s mission, Government Affairs tracks vehicle theft bills throughout the country. From 2020 to 2023, the department has seen a 230% increase in bills related to combatting vehicle theft. During that period, half of all U.S. states introduced at least one such bill. In 2023, nine vehicle theft bills were enacted at the state level.

State, federal, and issue-based legislation to note regarding vehicle thefts are: 

In 2022, Colorado ranked 5th in the number of vehicle thefts amongst all states, and 1st per capita. The state legislature reacted in 2023 by sending three vehicle theft bills to the governor’s desk. One of these bills would make vehicle theft a felony regardless of the car’s value. Another bill would award grants to “eligible entities for programs for theft prevention, enforcement, prosecution, or offender rehabilitation.”

New Jersey
The state with the most vehicle theft-related bills introduced from 2021 through 2023 was New Jersey, with 50 bills filed. One of these bills was Senate Bill 3006, which “makes it a 1st-degree crime for a leader of an auto theft trafficking network to conspire with others to engage in an organized auto theft scheme for profit.” Another bill would establish an Automobile Theft Prevention Authority. The role of this authority would be to fund activities intended to combat vehicle theft and support vehicle theft prosecution. 

Over the last few years, many states have made attempts to legislate the crime of carjacking. Three states passed such legislation. Wisconsin passed legislation that increases the penalty for carjacking from a Class C felony to a Class B felony if the person possesses a weapon and uses or threatens to use force or the weapon. Legislation passed in Mississippi increased the minimum penalties for carjacking and armed carjacking to five- and 10-years imprisonment, respectively. In Louisiana, the legislature increased the minimum penalty for armed carjacking to 10 years. Additional carjacking-related legislation was introduced in many other states.

The growing issue of vehicle theft has also gained the attention of the United States Congress. On March 1, 2022, NICB President and CEO David J. Glawe testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the rise of vehicle theft and carjackings. In February 2023, this same committee introduced the Auto Theft Prevention Act, which would “provide funding to State and local law enforcement agencies to combat auto theft and stolen automobile trafficking.” Also, early this year, President Joe Biden signed a resolution overturning a local Washington, D.C. crime bill that, amongst other things, would have lowered penalties for carjacking. 


Barrett, J. (2022, September 8). "Police, Car Owners Wrestle With Growing Thefts of Kias, Hyundais." The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/police-car-owners-wrestle-with-growing-thefts-of-kias-hyundais-11662638401

Gangitano, A. (2023, March 20). "Biden signs resolution overturning DC crime bill." The Hill. https://thehill.com/homenews/3903352-biden-signs-resolution-overturning-dc-crime-bill/

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $582 billion in insurance premiums in 2021, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 96% of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.