2019 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

2019 Hot Spots
National Interactive Map | Top 10 | By Rank | By State | Infographic | Methodology

2019 Hot Spots map small


DES PLAINES, Ill., July 21, 2020 — For the last two years, auto thefts nationally have fallen according to the latest “Hot Spots” report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The NICB report for 2019, the most recent data available, showed national thefts topped out at 794,019, down from 819,988 in 2018 and 833,740 in 2017.  

Like the national rate, New Mexico has also witnessed consecutive years of declining thefts, however the state tops the list with a theft rate near 448 vehicles per 100,000 people. Similarly, Bakersfield, California saw a decline from 2018 to 2019, however it moved from number three to the number one Metropolitan Statistical Area. California has the dubious distinction of placing 10 in the top 20 nationally.

The changing rankings of states and cities is a circumstance of dynamic studies. Nonetheless, this most recent study indicates most states and most locales are moving in a positive direction.

Eleven states did witness increases in theft rates. These states are:

State 2019 Theft Rate 2018 Theft Rate
Missouri 403.95 371.45
Texas 294.02 273.18
Arkansas 271.22 266.87
Nebraska 234.65 227.86
Minnesota 224.13 204.48
North Carolina 203.29 202.66
North Dakota 189.09 178.53
South Dakota 187.53 162.43
Delaware 183.82 165.74
Michigan 181.13 173.16
New Hampshire 52.66 50.5


The Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. These are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and often include municipalities other than the cities for which Metropolitan Statistical Areas are named. For example, Bakersfield, CA includes the entire county of Kern, not just the city of Bakersfield.

As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population can have a higher theft rate than an area with a greater number of thefts. Creating a theft rate, or number of thefts per 100,000 people, enables analysts to compare large regions, such as Los Angeles, with small regions, such as Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement and legislatures have been responsive to vehicle theft over the years, and the results are evident. Vehicle owners must guard against complacency and remember to heed simple tips to safeguard their vehicles.

NICB recommends drivers follow four layers of protection to guard against vehicle theft.

  1. Common sense. Vehicle owners should always remove keys from the ignition, lock doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
  2. Warning devices. These include visible and audible alarms. Aftermarket alarms are available for all makes and models of cars. Visual devices include column collars, steering wheel locks, and brake locks.
  3. Immobilizing devices. The third layer of protection prevents thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some examples are smart keys; fuse cut-offs; kill switches; starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers; and wireless ignition authentication.
  4. Tracking devices. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner, and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

For additional auto theft prevention tips, please click here.

PSA: Prevent Auto Theft – 60 Seconds

PSA: Prevent Auto Theft – 30 Seconds

2019 Hot Spots Infographic GIF

Media Contact

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Joe Brenckle
Director, Public Affairs

Nicholas Zeitlinger
Public Affairs Specialist

If you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

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.