These States Are the Worst for Car Theft

A criminal incident. Hacking the car. Broken left side window of a car

Larina Marina/istockphoto

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A criminal incident. Hacking the car. Broken left side window of a car
Larina Marina/istockphoto

Car Theft Decelerates

Although the rate of car theft in the United States has declined by 62.6% since 1990, certain states continue to be riskier than others. The National Insurance Crime Bureau breaks it down state-by-state with annual analyses of car theft statistics; the data here from 2021, the most recent year available, shows which states have the biggest and smallest risk for car theft and the impact on car insurance premiums. Still, there isn’t an exact correlation between high theft and high premiums and low theft and low premiums, as rankings by Wallet Hub show. 

Related: How Costco Can Save You Money on Your Car

Auto thief in black balaclava trying to break into car

States With the Most Car Theft

If you live in or travel to one of these states, take some simple steps advised by experts to reduce your chances of being a victim: Don’t keep keys right by your home’s front door; don’t leave valuables out in the open in a car; park in a secure location when possible; use a tracking device on your car; park it with the wheels directed toward the curb; use a steering wheel lock; and, of course, lock your car and close your car’s windows fully.

Related: Vehicles Most Likely to be Stolen

Dallas Texas evening skyline

10th Worst: Texas

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 320.04

A spike in Texas car thefts is believed to be related in part to a new TikTok trend: a “challenge” to use a USB cable to hot-wire certain makes of car and go for a joyride. Texas ranks 34th for most expensive insurance premiums.

Oklahoma Route 66 Sign along the historic Route 66 in the State of Oklahoma, USA.

9th Worst: Oklahoma

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 359.33

The penalties for auto theft in Oklahoma are severe. With felony charges carrying sentences of three to 20 years in prison plus fines and restitution, you would think the rate of car theft would decrease. Oklahoma ranks 26th for car insurance premium costs despite its theft problems.

Reno , Nevada at dawn

8th Worst: Nevada

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 426.75

In Nevada, and especially the Las Vegas area, there are reportedly organized crime rings that focus on stealing vehicles, and Las Vegas has a special Vehicle Investigation Project for Enforcement Recovery task force because of the size of the problem. Nevada also has one of the highest costs for car insurance.

Kansas City Missouri Lake Skyline

7th Worst: Missouri

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 428.13

The city of St. Joseph, Missouri ranks ninth for most car thefts out of metropolitan areas nationwide in 2020. Car thefts in St. Louis also increased dramatically in 2022 compared with 2021. Missouri is near the middle of the pack for car insurance prices, with costs coming in 24th.

Sunset Seattle

6th Worst: Washington

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 461.91

In some parts of the country, car theft has declined in recent years — but not in Washington. In fact, a comparison between 2021 and 2022 by the Washington State Patrol showed an 88% increase in thefts. The state ranks 30th for insurance premium costs, not as high as one might expect given the figures. 

Portland, Oregon, USA downtown
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

5th Worst: Oregon

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 471.16

More than 20,000 vehicles were stolen In 2021 in Oregon, a 22% increase from the previous year. Car theft likely plays a role in Oregon insurance premiums, which come in as the 16th most expensive out of all states.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

4th Worst: New Mexico

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 475.50

New Mexico’s high rate of car theft owes a lot to Albuquerque: The city ranked sixth-highest for car thefts in the country in 2021, marking the first time in 10 years it wasn’t in the top five. Surprisingly, New Mexicans have an average monthly car insurance premium of $46, making it the 19th least-expensive in the nation.

Walk of fame - Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles

3rd Worst: California

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 511.05

Nearly 195,000 vehicles were stolen in California in 2021, according to the California Highway Patrol, for a total value of around $1.7 billion. (All told, one vehicle was stolen approximately every three minutes.) California ranks among some of the most expensive car insurance premiums, though it isn’t the most expensive. 

Washington DC aerial Thomas Jefferson Memorial

2nd Worst: District of Columbia

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 651.00

Eighteen vehicles are stolen each day in the tiny District of Columbia, police there say. Some of those come in the form of carjackings. “We are still short hundreds of cops, and the responsible policing that used to address this has been prohibited by misguided legislation,” the D.C. Police Union said of carjackings via Facebook, Fox News reports.

Denver Colorado skyscrapers snowy Longs Peak Rocky Mountains summer

Worst: Colorado

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 661.21

Not only is the rate of car theft increasing in Colorado, but it is becoming more dangerous as well. "They're more bold and they're more willing to commit worse acts because they believe they're not going to go to jail," a Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force spokesperson told 9News here. “We know that 74% of the people that get arrested for auto theft are also charged with another felony crime of some type. The vast majority of those are violent crimes." Insurance premiums are affected somewhat: Colorado ranks 31st highest for these costs.

Manhattan bridge from Brooklyn, New York
Xavier Arnau/istockphoto

States With the Least Car Theft

If you want to decrease your chances of car theft, consider moving to one of these states. The rate of theft in the worst state, Colorado, compared with the best state, Maine, was greater than 10 times more. 

Providence, Rhode Island Cityscape

10th Best: Rhode Island

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 156.26

Only 1,712 cars were stolen in this little state in 2021. Despite low theft rates, Rhode Islanders pay higher insurance premiums than most other states.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

9th Best: Virginia

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 142.56

Although the theft rate is lower than in Rhode Island, 12,320 cars were stolen in more populous Virginia in 2021. Its low rate of theft also doesn’t help with lowering insurance premiums: It ranks 41st highest for this cost. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA at Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

8th Best: Pennsylvania

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 139.18

Pennsylvania has a dedicated, statewide team of almost 100 law enforcement members and support staff dedicated to preventing auto theft, helping give Pennsylvanians lower car insurance premiums than average — WalletHub put it as 17th lowest, but in monthly dollar amounts it ties with Tennessee and Hawaii.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

7th Best: West Virginia

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 128.83

A reported 73% of West Virginians think crime is increasing in their state, but car theft rates decreased to 128.83 in 2021 from 146.01 the year earlier. That’s better than most states can say.

The Waldorf Astoria New York City with Taxi Cabs

6th Best: New York

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 115.51

New York’s low theft rate seems especially impressive given how big New York City is — though despite the low overall rates there was a slight increase in theft from 2020. New Yorkers also don’t catch a break on insurance premiums: The state ranks 49th for cost; only Michigan is more expensive. 

Boston, Massachusetts, USA skyline over Boston Common
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

5th Best: Massachusetts

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 100.06

Massachusetts’ former governor, Edward J. King, enacted an executive order in 1979  to establish a Task Force on Automobile Theft. Although it was dissolved in 2013 due to budget cuts, perhaps its 30 years on the job set the stage for a safer state.

Autumn trees and the skyline of Boise Idaho

4th Best: Idaho

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 96.74

Idaho auto owners have little to fear in the way of car theft and reap the benefits on their auto insurance premiums: The state has the country’s sixth-lowest costs, with average monthly premiums of just $32. 

Montpelier, Vermont Skyline

3rd Best: Vermont

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 96.19

Like Idaho, low theft and low insurance premiums go hand in hand in Vermont. It ranks fourth-lowest for insurance premiums at just $28 a month, though the state experienced a surge in theft rates in 2021 from 63.37 in 2020. 

Autumn in Manchester, New Hampshire

2nd Best: New Hampshire

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 61.77

New Hampshire also had an increase in theft rates last year, up from 54.02 in 2020 — still, only 858 cars were stolen in the state in 2021. And insurance premiums are low, coming in 10th lowest overall.  

Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine, USA at sunrise

Best: Maine

Vehicle Thefts per 100,000 inhabitants: 60.70

The grand champion for low rate of car theft. Mainers not only don’t have to worry much about their car being stolen, but also pay some of the lowest insurance premiums in the country. Rates here come in 12th lowest, or $38 a month on average. Maine also has the lowest violent crime rate in the country.