Car Theft Down 7.2 Percent In 2010

September 21, 2011

While the preliminary results from the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report showing that auto theft decreased 7.2 percent in 2010 is certainly encouraging, the fact remains that a motor vehicle theft occurs in America every 42.8 seconds.

Nationwide, there were an estimated 732,141 motor vehicle thefts in 2010. More than $4.5 billion was lost nationwide due to car thefts in 2010, representing an average dollar loss per stolen vehicle of $6,152. When a car theft does occur, it is often a huge hit in the family’s household budget, not to mention the trauma and aftereffects of having been the target of thieves.

Percent change for consecutive years. The 7.2 percent decrease in car thefts in 2010 is also the smallest percent change for consecutive years in the last four years and considerably less than the two previous years. There was a 17.1 percent decrease 2009/2008, a drop of 12.7 percent 2008/2007, and a decrease of 8.1 percent 2007/2006.

Percent change by region. Looking at the auto theft decreases by region for January-December 2010, the biggest improvement was in the South and West, with decreases of 9.5 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. The Northeast (-4.8 percent) and Midwest (-2.6 percent) followed.

Top 10 cities for auto theft 2010

Think you know which are the worst cities in the country for auto thefts? Some on the top 10 list may be a surprise but, then again, maybe not.

Auto Thefts By State By City Over 100,000 Population



Auto Thefts


Chicago, IL




Los Angeles, CA




Houston, TX




Detroit, MI




New York, NY




Dallas, TX




Las Vegas, NV




Philadelphia, PA




San Diego, CA




San Antonio, TX




2012 Ford Explorer

2012 Ford Explorer

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How to safeguard your car

Car thefts occur in a matter of seconds, whether you live in or park in the city or rural area. But it’s more than a matter of luck, since preventing vehicle theft is more about making it tougher for thieves to steal your car.

Experts say that 40 to 50 percent of vehicle theft is due to driver error. But you can help thwart car thefts by using these common sense tips – and making sure everyone in the family observes them as well:

-      Close and lock -- Always close all windows and doors and lock them on exiting the vehicle.

-      Take your keys – Always take your keys with you. Never leave them in the car or, worse yet, in the ignition.

-      If your car is running, never leave the area – even for a minute.

-      Never leave valuables in your car.

-      Park in well-lit areas.

-      Garage your car, if at all possible.

Other precautions include having the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on windows and other surfaces, subscribing to LoJack, OnStar or other vehicle tracking and recovery services, and installing wheel locks.

If you have any information on an auto theft, report it to police.

To read the full FBI report, click here.


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