California Makes Top 10 List for States With Most Vehicle Thefts

California Makes Top 10 List for States With Most Vehicle Thefts

Ford F-150 pickup trucks at a dealership in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 6, 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Updated: 12/30/2023

California led the nation in total vehicle thefts last year and ranked among the top 10 states for car thefts per capita, according to a report released last month by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), an Illinois-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting insurance fraud.
The Golden State reported the most vehicle thefts in 2022, reporting 203,018. Texas had the second-highest number, reporting 105,133, followed by Washington state with 46,990, Florida with 46,020, and Colorado with 42,706.
Although California reported the most vehicles stolen, the state ranked sixth highest in car thefts per capita, with a rate of 520 per 100,000 people.
The NICB compiled the list using crime statistics from the National Crime Information Center, maintained by the FBI.
The top 10 most-stolen vehicles in California in 2022, according to the NICB, were:
  1. Chevrolet full-size pickup
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Ford full-size pickup
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Hyundai Sonata
  6. Kia Optima
  7. GMC full-size pickup
  8. Honda CR-V
  9. Toyota Camry
  10. Chevrolet Tahoe
About 45,000 vehicles crossed the California–Nevada border on Interstate 15 every day in 2022. (Dreamstime/TNS)

About 45,000 vehicles crossed the California–Nevada border on Interstate 15 every day in 2022. (Dreamstime/TNS)

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), more than half of all vehicle thefts happened in Southern California, in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. Los Angeles County experienced the most thefts, with 61,770 reported in 2022, according to the CHP.
About 18 percent of the thefts occurred in the San Francisco Bay area, which includes Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.
Of the vehicles stolen in 2022, 48 percent were personal trucks and sport utility vehicles, according to the CHP. Nearly 37 percent were automobiles, 6 percent were commercial trucks and trailers, and 5 percent were motorcycles, the CHP reported, and all other vehicles stolen, including construction and farm equipment and recreational vehicles, totaled nearly 4 percent.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, wants to cut down on car thefts by making it easier to prosecute thieves in the state. He plans to introduce legislation next year to eliminate a legal definition of auto burglary in the state that requires proof that vehicles were locked in order to qualify for convictions, he said in October.
In San Francisco, more than 15,000 vehicles were broken into this year, according to Mr. Wiener. The city’s vehicle theft rate of nearly 700 thefts per 100,000 was the sixth highest in the nation last year, according to the NICB report.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener hosts an event in San Francisco on Oct. 23, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

California state Sen. Scott Wiener hosts an event in San Francisco on Oct. 23, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Colorado claimed the No. 1 spot again this year as the nation’s hottest spot for stolen cars, with sharp increases in the crime every year. The number rose again last year by about 10 percent, bumping the state’s rate to about 731 car thefts per 100,000 people, an increase from its 2021 rate of 661 per 100,000. In 2020, its rate was 502 per 100,000.
The top 10 hottest states for vehicle theft in 2022, according to the NICB, were:
  1. Colorado (731 per 100,000)
  2. District of Columbia (700 per 100,000)
  3. Washington state (604 per 100,000)
  4. Oregon (541 per 100,000)
  5. New Mexico (541 per 100,000)
  6. California (520 per 100,000)
  7. Missouri (483 per 100,000)
  8. Nevada (481 per 100,000)
  9. Texas (350 per 100,000)
  10. Tennessee (338 per 100,000)
California cities also ranked high on this year’s vehicle theft hot spots list by the NICB. Coming in second was Bakersfield, with a 2022 theft rate of 1,072 per 100,000 people. The central California city ranked first last year, with 1,023 per 100,000.
Pueblo, Colorado, rose from third place on last year’s list to first this year, with a theft rate in 2022 of 1,086 per 100,000—a dramatic rise from 2021’s rate of 891 per 100,000.
The Top 10 U.S. metro areas for vehicle thefts in 2022 were:
  1. Pueblo, Colorado (1,086 per 100,000)
  2. Bakersfield, California (1,072 per 100,000)
  3. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado (1,063 per 100,000)
  4. Memphis, Tennessee-Missouri-Arkansas (846 per 100,000)
  5. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area, Oregon-Washington border (797 per 100,000)
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico (795 per 100,000)
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area, Washington (759 per 100,000)
  8. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley metro area, California (699 per 100,000)
  9. Greeley, Colorado (589 per 100,000)
  10. Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas (573 per 100,000)
Overall, about 1 million vehicles were stolen nationwide in 2022, which equates to about two every one minute—nearly a 7 percent increase over 2021, according to the report.
Full-size pickups continue to be the most popular vehicles stolen, with Chevrolet and Ford models topping the list. Nationally, the Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Elantra were new to the Top 10 list of stolen cars in 2022.
“Approximately 1 motor vehicle is stolen every 32 seconds, which adds up to more than 1 million vehicles stolen last year,“ David J. Glawe, president and CEO of the NICB, said in a July statement. ”Vehicle theft disrupts lives, causes financial hardship, and undermines community safety.”
Mr. Glawe encouraged car owners to take steps to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle theft, including removing valuables from the car or locking them out of sight, locking the doors, rolling up windows, and not leaving keys in the car.
Although the number of vehicles stolen last year increased nationally, several states reported declines, including Oklahoma, Kansas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Utah, Alabama, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, and West Virginia.
The Top 10 most-stolen vehicles nationally in 2022, according to the nonprofit, were:
  1. Chevrolet full-size pickup
  2. Ford full-size pickup
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Hyundai Sonata
  6. Hyundai Elantra
  7. Kia Optima
  8. Toyota Camry
  9. GMC full-size pickup
  10. Honda CR-V
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.