As with any kind of theft, car theft isn’t just a matter of what types of vehicle the thieves want to steal. Opportunity, difficulty, and location all matter as well.
In this article, we’ll look at the most recent data from NICB, as well as discussing some underlying risk factors and theft-prevention techniques you can use to keep your car safe. Let’s get started!
The 10 Most Stolen Cars
The most recent data we have from the NICB is from 2017, but this list is still a good representation of the vehicles that are still being stolen today.
- Honda Civic
- Honda Accord
- Full-Size Ford Pickup
- Full-Size Chevrolet Pickup
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- Toyota Corolla
- Full-Size Dodge Pickup
- Full-Size GMC Pickup
- Chevrolet Impala
It’s also important to note, from the models on this list, the cars that were stolen most often were the older models of these vehicles. For instance, the most common year for stolen Honda Civics was 1998.
Older model cars generally have fewer anti-theft devices and security devices built into the car. More modern cars are more likely to have anti-theft devices built into the key or remote-start fob, so even if the thief starts the car without the key, they won’t get far before the anti-theft device turns off the engine.
However, some of the cars from the 2017 list were new model cars, the Toyota Camry and the GMC full-size pickup both had the 2017 model (the most recent at the time) stolen more often than any other year of those vehicles.
When a car shows up on the most stolen list the first year it’s released there are usually a couple of factors at play. The car might have insufficient anti-theft devices, or the anti-theft devices might be defective and easy to beat. The car might be more desirable for thieves, either for resale or to chop for valuable parts, which might motivate thieves to do more to steal that vehicle. Or, lastly, the car might be prevalent in ‘hot spot’ areas, where car theft is more common in general, inflating the number of that make and model being stolen.
If you’re concerned you might live in a ‘hot spot’; you can check regional data from NCIB. They also provide statistics specific to the hot spot or region you’re concerned about.
Other Cars to be Concerned About
Since the official NCIB data is a little out of date, we also looked at other sources. Information is mixed at best, with different vehicles being listed as potential targets for theft. So, take these with a grain of salt, but we thought it worth noting.
Dodge Challenger, there are a few models of this car that are noted for being targets for theft. They aren’t particularly less well-guarded than other vehicles, which would indicate that they are targeted for high market and pop-culture value.
Dodge Charger, like the Challenger line, the Charger isn’t particularly more vulnerable to theft, but it is still a target. These are not cars you should leave unlocked since they are targets of opportunity.
Chevrolet Silverado, all the variations of this vehicle seem to be recent targets of opportunity. The Silverado is another iconic, but overall safe, vehicle. If you own a Silverado, you should take extra precautions, just in case.
Less Stolen Cars
Just like some cars seem to be stolen more often, some cars don’t seem to be targeted as often as others. These cars benefit from anti-theft devices or being less valuable on the resale and parts markets. Whatever the combination of factors, these cars are safer, although you still should take some precautions to keep them safe.
Overall, Tesla, Subaru, and BMW seem to be the safest cars when it comes to theft. These three makers all have several different models of vehicles that beat the odds and are stolen less often than average in the United States.
Precautions You Can Take to Prevent Car Theft
Many of the most effective ways you can prevent car theft may seem kind of obvious on the surface, but they do work.
Install an Anti-Theft Device and Tracker
There are a few different anti-theft devices. Most will either stop the engine or prevent the car from starting without a specific chip or other devices in your key.
However, there are also anti-theft devices that will track your car and report it to you and the police if it’s being used without the second part of the anti-theft device in the car.
Tracking devices seem to be particularly useful, whether they stop the engine or not, since they make locating the car after it’s been stolen much easier.
Never Leave Your Keys In or Near Your Vehicle
This step is common sense most of the time, but we’ve all been tempted to leave our keys in the vehicle while we run into a gas station or to grab a forgotten item from our homes.
Even if you’re only going to be away from your car for a moment, you should take your keys with you. Car thieves often take advantage of the opportunity if they see keys in the ignition or the center console of your car. Worse, checking for keys only takes a few seconds, and it’s difficult to stop a theft after the thief is in your car with your keys.
You can report the theft to the police, of course, but often the thief will put different plates on your car, making it harder to spot.
Park in Well-Lit Areas
Parking your car in well-lit areas won’t necessarily deter the most determined thieves, but it will make it easier for bystanders to spot what’s going on.
Since stealing a car usually involves at least one suspicious-looking step (unless they have your key), thieves look for vehicles that are in out-of-the-way places and easily missed or ignored.
Hide Packages and Valuables
Another common issue, not only for car theft, but also package theft, is leaving phones, shopping bags, and other packages in plain view.
Your glove box is an excellent place to hide small items like your phone, jewelry boxes, watches, or other accessories. Larger packages should go in your trunk, under the seat, or even under a jacket.
If you don’t have a trunk with no windows, the goal isn’t necessarily to hide that you have stuff in your car but to hide the value of that stuff.
Grocery bags usually don’t need to be hidden, but bags from tech stores, designer outlets, and other high-value venues should be. A jacket, scarf, or other opaque fabric can disguise valuable packages and make your car less of a target for a break-in or theft.