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The Top 20 Metro Cities for Car Theft in 2018

There’s plenty you can do to prevent your car from being stolen: rolling up your windows, locking the doors, and parking in busy, well-lit places are a few examples. But there are other factors that are much less in your control when it comes to your risk for car theft. Certain makes and models of cars are easier to break into than others, and older cars are usually equipped with fewer security measures to deter car thieves.

Your risk for car theft also changes significantly based on where you live. To help determine which areas are most vulnerable, our team looked at metropolitan cities throughout the country with a population of at least 100,000 people to determine which had the highest rates of stolen cars. Take a look below to see our results.

car theft

20 metro cities with the most car thefts

RankCityPopulationCars stolen per 1,000 people
1Oakland, CA424,9987.08
2Springfield, MO168,3075.85
3Hayward, CA161,1225.72
4Richmond, CA110,8685.66
5Portland, OR642,1295.57
6Tacoma, WA209,9145.13
7San Bernardino, CA217,3035.12
8Gresham, OR111,4915.11
9Kent, WA128,6044.98
10Independence, MO117,3354.86
11Anchorage, AK299,0974.81
12Pueblo, CO109,9274.80
13Antioch, CA112,0904.77
14West Valley, UT137,5584.65
15Salt Lake City, UT193,9184.58
16Salinas, CA158,7294.54
17Tulsa, OK405,7484.41
18Cleveland, OH386,2274.32
19Baltimore, MD618,3854.24
20Vallejo, CA122,2934.17
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City Population Cars stolen per 1,000 people
Oakland, CA 424,998 7.08
Springfield, MO 168,307 5.85
Hayward, CA 161,122 5.72
Richmond, CA 110,868 5.66
Portland, OR 642,129 5.57
Tacoma, WA 209,914 5.13
San Bernardino, CA 217,303 5.12
Gresham, OR 111,491 5.11
Kent, WA 128,604 4.98
Independence, MO 117,335 4.86
Anchorage, AK 299,097 4.81
Pueblo, CO 109,927 4.80
Antioch, CA 112,090 4.77
West Valley, UT 137,558 4.65
Salt Lake City, UT 193,918 4.58
Salinas, CA 158,729 4.54
Tulsa, OK 405,748 4.41
Cleveland, OH 386,227 4.32
Baltimore, MD 618,385 4.24
Vallejo, CA 122,293 4.17

20 metro cities with the fewest car thefts

RankCityPopulationCars stolen per 1,000 people
1Naperville, IL148,0700.14
2Cary, NC164,8350.15
3Amherst Town, NY120,4360.16
4Lakewood Town, NJ100,2690.19
5Port St. Lucie, FL182,3650.24
6Green Bay, WI105,4520.29
7New York, NY8,566,9170.30
8Rochester, NY113,3060.32
9Elgin, IL112,8860.34
10Irvine, CA266,6630.38
11Cambridge, MA111,0300.39
12Cape Coral, FL179,6310.40
13Ann Arbor, MI117,6880.41
14Yonkers, NY202,0750.42
15Sterling Heights, MI132,5230.42
16Aurora, IL201,1590.43
17Joliet, IL147,8860.43
18Virginia Beach, VA453,0170.43
19Kenosha, WI99,9540.46
20Chesapeake, VA236,5700.47
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City Population Cars stolen per 1,000 people
Naperville, IL 148,070 0.14
Cary, NC 164,835 0.15
Amherst Town, NY 120,436 0.16
Lakewood Town, NJ 100,269 0.19
Port St. Lucie, FL 182,365 0.24
Green Bay, WI 105,452 0.29
New York, NY 8,566,917 0.30
Rochester, NY 113,306 0.32
Elgin, IL 112,886 0.34
Irvine, CA 266,663 0.38
Cambridge, MA 111,030 0.39
Cape Coral, FL 179,631 0.40
Ann Arbor, MI 117,688 0.41
Yonkers, NY 202,075 0.42
Sterling Heights, MI 132,523 0.42
Aurora, IL 201,159 0.43
Joliet, IL 147,886 0.43
Virginia Beach, VA 453,017 0.43
Kenosha, WI 99,954 0.46
Chesapeake, VA 236,570 0.47

What we found

ASL Take Note

If you live in the western US, you’re at a much higher risk for car theft

Car theft is more common for cities out west

If you live in the western US, you’re at a much higher risk for car theft than on the East Coast, Midwest, or southern states. In fact, three-quarters of the top 20 cities for car theft are found out west. That’s probably because the West is generally more car-dependent than other parts of the country. Cities are often more spread out and lack the public transportation infrastructure that you find in cities further east (New York City, for example, ranks seventh for fewest car thefts).

So unfortunately for those living out west, you’re not only more likely to become a victim of vehicle theft, but having your car stolen is even more of a hassle than in places with ampler public transportation options.

Bad news for Honda drivers

top 5 stolen cars

If you drive a Honda in one of our top 20 metro cities for car theft, you’re at the highest risk for having your vehicle stolen. Both the Accord and the Civic respectively topped the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s list for car models most likely to be stolen in 2017.1

Midwest is best (for avoiding car theft)

The Midwest ranks safest in the country when it comes to car theft. While Cleveland cracked the top 20 for car theft, the region as a whole is pretty safe on that front. Cities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota all have metro cities with the fewest car thefts. In fact, Naperville, Illinois, ranks the safest metropolitan city in the country with 0.14 car thefts per 1,000 people.

How can you better protect your car from getting stolen?

Whether or not you live in an area prone to car theft, it’s worth taking some extra precautions to ensure your car is less likely to be stolen. Car thieves look for easy wins first, so if you take the right measures, you’re far more likely to avoid the headache of having your car stolen. Of course, the easiest thing you can do is lock your doors and roll up your windows when you leave your car, but we’ll cover a few more tips to prevent car theft.

Don’t hide a spare key in your car

While it might seem like a good idea, it’s best not to keep a spare key hidden in your car. At the very least, make sure the spare key is uniquely hidden, as professional car thieves know the most common spots for spare keys. Similarly, if you have a key with a fob, don’t carry the fob around with the key locked inside the car. That would make stealing your vehicle as easy as breaking a window.

Park thoughtfully

Car thieves prefer dark, quiet places where they’re less likely to be seen in the act. Keep that in mind when you’re out and about at night, and try to park in well-lit spaces, especially if they’re heavily trafficked by other cars and passersby.

Keep valuables out of sight

Nothing will attract a break-in more than leaving valuables visible inside your car. While it’s best to keep valuables out of the car as much as possible, make sure to keep expensive items hidden in the trunk or hidden from plain sight so you don’t draw extra attention to your vehicle.

Be careful with personal information

Identity theft is a fairly common byproduct of car theft. Instead of leaving your registration and title inside your car, consider keeping your registration hidden somewhere other than your glove box, and your vehicle title safely at home. Both can potentially be used to steal your identity.

Further, your vehicle registration bears your address, which could lead a car thief back to your home, especially if they find a garage door opener or a house key inside your vehicle.

Car theft can happen to anyone

The only way to truly eliminate your risk for car theft would be to sell your car and buy a bicycle. But by following the above steps, you can certainly better your odds. If your car is stolen, try to remain calm, and both your insurance company and the authorities will help you achieve appropriate reparations.

1. National Insurance Crime Bureau, “2017 Hot Wheels Report”

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