Cars That Are Most Likely To Be Stolen

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a United States not-for-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and fight against insurance crime, a car is stolen in the United States once every 32 seconds. And the vehicles car thieves like to swipe the most are full-size pickup trucks. Per NICB analysis, these vehicles accounted for more than a quarter of all car thefts in 2022. Chevrolet and Ford pickup trucks, specifically, were the main targets, Nos. 1 and 2 on the list, respectively. In each truck's case, over 77% more of Chevy and Ford trucks were stolen than the next highest on the list, the Honda Civic.

In a press release on its latest report, NICB President and CEO David J. Glawe said, "Vehicle theft disrupts lives, causes financial hardship, and undermines community safety. Addressing this problem is not just the responsibility of law enforcement agencies; it requires a partnership between vehicle owners, community members, as well as federal, state, and local governments." Being aware of the prevalence of car theft across the United States is a good first step in protecting your investment, as is knowing what your car's particular risk might be. In all these cases, for example, the most popular model stolen was an older one, from the early 2000s.

A car is stolen every 32 seconds

A car stolen every 32 seconds comes to over 1 million stolen overall. In 2022, that was the number American drivers faced, with owners of Chevrolet and Ford pickup trucks the most vulnerable. Here are the top 10 cars and their total number of vehicles stolen in 2022, along with the most popular model stolen for each in parentheses, per National Insurance Crime Bureau data:

  1. Chevrolet full-size pickup | 49,903 (2004)

  2. Ford full-size pickup | 48,175 (2006)

  3. Honda Civic | 27,113 (2000)

  4. Honda Accord | 27,089 (1997)

  5. Hyundai Sonata | 21,707 (2013)

  6. Hyundai Elantra | 19,602 (2017)

  7. Kia Optima | 18,221 (2015)

  8. Toyota Camry | 17,094 (2021)

  9. GMC full-size pickup | 16,662 (2005)

  10. Honda CR-V | 13,832 (2001)

Just looking at this top 10, pickup trucks at Nos. 1, 2, and 9, actually account for 44% of cars stolen. Further, as mentioned, older car models appear to be most at risk, though the Toyota Camry at No. 8 is relatively new. This said, before you think you can avoid theft entirely simply by not buying a used car, you'll want to think twice about buying that new car, too. (See what the average price of a new car is in 2024.)

In a separate report by research nonprofit Highway Loss Data Institute, which focused on newer models (2020 to 2022), it turned out that muscle cars were the most likely new cars to be stolen in the U.S., with the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and Dodge Charger HEMI taking the top-two spots, with theft claims for the Hellcat more than 60 times more frequent than the average. The Dodge Challenger was fourth.

The impact of social media on thefts

When it came to cars most likely to be stolen in 2022, social media made a noticeable impact, as Hyundai and Kia took spots five, six, and seven on the National Insurance Crime Bureau's list, and made the top 20 for the Highway Loss Data Institute. The reason? A viral trend that showed people how to hot-wire these cars, in particular, as the models lacked a key anti-theft feature: an engine immobilizer, a security device that prevents a car from starting up without having the proper key.

That's why finding out Hyundai and Kia lacked immobilizers set auto thieves into motion in 2022. However, many of these thefts were done by younger people, perhaps looking to try this viral trend themselves. For example, according to The New York Times, Memphis arrest data for car thefts in early 2023 showed that more than half were committed by young people and/or teens, who are more likely to swipe a car for a joyride (and maybe film the crime). This said, for this Tennessee city, car thefts in 2022 also captured the apparent impact of the viral trend, as Memphis logged double the number of thefts in 2022 compared to 2021, with a third being Kia/Hyundai models.

This pattern also underscores another statistic in 2022, that for car recovery. While recovery rates overall have increased in recent years, the NICB makes particular mention of the car recovery rate for Hyundai and Kia in 2022, which was between 87% and 95%.