Nationwide car thefts reach 14-year high

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Vehicle thefts have become a major issue for law enforcement in recent years, hitting a high last year that hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade and a half.

According to a study released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), vehicle thefts in the United States eclipsed 1 million cases in 2022, a number not reached since 2008. Year over year, vehicle theft increased by 7 percent from 2021. 

“We are seeing vehicle theft numbers that we haven’t seen in nearly 15 years, and there is very little deterrent to stop criminals from committing these acts as they are just property crimes, like shoplifting,” David J. Glawe, President and CEO of the NICB, said in a statement. “We must reinvest in local law enforcement, provide the necessary resources for prosecution and community policing programs, and implement early intervention programs given the high incidence of juvenile offenders involved in vehicle thefts.”

In terms of raw numbers, 1,001,967 were stolen in 2022, compared to 937,976 in 2021, and 888,011 in 2020. Back in 2008, 1.05 million cars were stolen. 

Some states saw double-digit increases in vehicle crime from 2021 to 2022. Illinois was the worst hit with a 35 percent increase followed by Washington state (31%) and New York (23%). 

California and Georgia were among the states with the lowest percent increase in automotive thefts, suffering a one percent increase apiece. However, in California, a one percent jump meant 202,685 total cars were stolen in 2022 compared to 201,304 in 2021. 

Glawe said that the best course of action for automobile owners is to take several simple, common-sense steps to make their vehicles less appealing to would-be thieves. These steps include: 

  • Keeping windows rolled up and doors locked
  • Ensuring keys are with the driver
  • Parking in well-lit areas, ideally frequented by security
  • Installing motion-sensor lighting when cars will be parked in a dark driveway. 
  • Quickly contacting law enforcement and insurer in the event a theft occurs. 

“NICB, along with our partners in law enforcement, are proactively working to prevent and deter vehicle theft, but vehicle owners should stay vigilant,” Glawe said. “Remember, practicing good personal security hygiene is an easy and effective first step all of us can take to protect ourselves and our vehicles. Don’t leave your car running and unattended. Always take your keys with you and most importantly, make sure your auto policy is up to date. It is that simple.” 

The NICB is an insurance industry association that seeks to predict, prevent, and prosecute insurance crime.