FBI Releases New Auto Theft Numbers - Nearly 750,000 Motor Vehicles Stolen in 2018

Last week the FBI released its final 2018 Uniform Crime Report Data. Within the Motor Vehicle Theft section, the numbers show a 3.1 percent decrease in this type of theft in 2018, compared with 2017.

Here’s how the numbers break down.

In 2018, a motor vehicle was stolen once every 42.2 seconds in the United States. Those thefts, when added together, resulted in a 6.3-billion dollar loss. In total, 748,841 motor vehicles were stolen (74.9 percent were automobiles). The recovery rate for stolen motor vehicles in 2018 came in at 59.3 percent. While this means around 300,000 motor vehicles went unrecovered, it’s hard to nail down a specific number, since vehicles are recovered nationwide daily.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia saw an increase in motor vehicle thefts, while 29 states posted a decrease. The increases ranged from a low of 2 (North Dakota) to a high of 1,915 (Tennessee). The reductions ranged from a low of 2 (Kansas) to a high of 13,180 (California).

*Note - A motor vehicle is defined in the UCR Program as a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and not on rails. Examples of motor vehicles include sport utility vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. Motor vehicle theft does not include farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment, or watercraft, such as motorboats, sailboats, houseboats, or jet skis.

Auto Theft


The top 10 states for motor vehicle theft in 2018:

STATE                                 2018 Theft Totals

CALIFORNIA                            155,211

TEXAS                                       69,817

FLORIDA                                   41,165

WASHINGTON                          27,677

GEORGIA                                  24,760

COLORADO                              21,673

TENNESSEE                             20,439

OHIO                                         19,909

ILLINOIS                                   19,593

ARIZONA                                  19,139


See the FBI’s final 2018 Uniform Crime Report Data https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018

Motor vehicle theft data broken down by state, with totals from 2011-2018 & Motor vehicle theft data broken down by state for 2018

Motor vehicle theft statistic from 2004-2018


NICB advises drivers to:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or FOBS.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
  • Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone and do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee.
  • If your car is stolen contact police first, and then contact your insurance company or agent.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422) or by submitting a form on our website.

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-casualty insurers, self-insureds, rental car, vehicle finance, and auto auctions. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.