Thefts of Hyundai Elantras in Maryland and Honda CR-Vs in Vermont More Than Tripled Between 2021 and 2022
If you double- or triple-check that you locked your car before going inside, there’s a good reason: There’s a higher chance your vehicle could be stolen nowadays. In fact, auto thefts increased 17.4% nationally between 2019 and 2021, and the coronavirus pandemic and a TikTok trend are partially to blame.
The newest LendingTree study looked at vehicle thefts nationally and at the state, metro and vehicle levels. And while you may assume car insurance would cover theft, that isn’t always the case.
Here’s what you need to know about vehicle thefts, whether you own a car or not.
- Vehicle thefts increased 17.4% between 2019 and 2021. 932,329 vehicles were reported stolen in the U.S. in 2021 (the latest year available nationally) — significantly more than the 794,019 thefts in 2019. The increase in vehicle thefts between 2019 and 2020 (10.9%) was bigger than between 2020 and 2021 (5.9%).
- Utica, N.Y., saw a 161.5% increase in auto thefts in the same period. This central New York metro was one of nine metros that saw at least a 100.0% jump between 2019 and 2021. Milwaukee (116.6%) and Ithaca, N.Y. (112.0%), followed. 40 U.S. metros saw at least a 50.0% jump in the same period.
- Colorado and Wisconsin were the only states where vehicle thefts rose by at least 75.0% between 2019 and 2021. Colorado saw an 80.4% spike, while auto thefts rose 75.2% in Wisconsin. Vermont (64.7%) joined them with the third-highest jump. 16 states saw at least a 25.0% jump between 2019 and 2021, while six states saw a decrease.
- Thefts of Hyundai Elantras in Maryland and Honda CR-Vs in Vermont more than tripled between 2021 and 2022 at 253.8% and 230.0%, respectively. Looking at the percentage change in thefts between 2021 and 2022 among the 10 most stolen vehicles in each state, six states had at least one car with a 100.0% increase. Just two states — Kentucky and Utah — didn’t register an increase among their 10 most stolen vehicles.
Vehicle thefts jump 17.4% between 2019 and 2021
In 2019, 794,019 cars were reported stolen in the U.S., but that number jumped to 932,329 in 2021 (the latest available nationally). This represents a 17.4% spike over two years. Why the jump?
The data shows the severity of the pandemic problems, as 2019 to 2020 accounted for a bigger increase in vehicle thefts (10.9%) than 2020 to 2021 (5.9%). In 2021, most states that had set capacity limits or distancing and mask requirements had ended these restrictions. Vehicle thefts continued an upward trend as people started using their cars more regularly but not at the same pace as the previous year.
The prepandemic data tells a different story, with decreases between 2017 and 2018 (-1.6%) and 2018 and 2019 (-3.2%). Here’s a closer look dating to 2016:
Vehicle thefts nationally since 2016
|Year||Vehicle thefts||% change YoY|
Source: LendingTree analysis of National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) data. Note: U.S. totals include Puerto Rico.
Utica, N.Y., leads 9 metros where vehicle thefts spike by at least 100.0%
Where you live can have a major impact on how likely it is that your car will be stolen. According to the data, there were nine U.S. metros where vehicle thefts rose by at least 100.0% from 2019 to 2021, with Utica, N.Y., leading the pack at a whopping 161.5% increase. That’s the highest increase by a wide margin — Milwaukee (116.6%) and Ithaca, N.Y. (112.0%), ranked second and third, respectively.
All told, of the 100 U.S. metros with the largest percentage change, 40 saw jumps in vehicle thefts of at least 50.0% during the observed period. (If you zoom out and look at our full list of 383 metros analyzed, 277 saw an increase between 2019 and 2021, two saw no change and 104 saw a decrease).
Change in vehicle thefts by metro between 2019 and 2021
|Rank||Metro||Vehicle thefts, 2019||Vehicle thefts, 2021||% change in vehicle thefts, 2019 to 2021|
|9||Glens Falls, NY||22||44||100.0%|
|14||Mount Vernon, WA||265||495||86.8%|
|16||Grand Junction, CO||262||483||84.4%|
|24||Grand Rapids, MI||1,139||1,965||72.5%|
|25||Idaho Falls, ID||116||195||68.1%|
|27||Sioux Falls, SD||725||1,207||66.5%|
|32||Fort Collins, CO||521||829||59.1%|
|36||Santa Maria, CA||1,288||1,992||54.7%|
|40||Green Bay, WI||204||306||50.0%|
|47||Santa Rosa, CA||808||1,181||46.2%|
|49||Los Angeles, CA||49,441||71,422||44.5%|
|55||Las Cruces, NM||603||856||42.0%|
|57||New York, NY||18,574||26,109||40.6%|
|63||Santa Fe, NM||371||516||39.1%|
|68||La Crosse, WI||120||166||38.3%|
|69||Wichita Falls, TX||317||438||38.2%|
|78||St. George, UT||182||248||36.3%|
|81||San Luis Obispo, CA||456||620||36.0%|
|87||Terre Haute, IN||409||551||34.7%|
|88||San Francisco, CA||23,296||31,247||34.1%|
|89||Fort Smith, AR||652||874||34.0%|
|94||Bay City, MI||91||120||31.9%|
|98||Salt Lake City, UT||4,511||5,922||31.3%|
|99||Rapid City, SD||439||575||31.0%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of NICB data. Note: Limited to the 100 metros with the largest percentage increases.
In Utica, the median household income in 2021 was $43,509 — 37.0% lower than the U.S. average of $69,021. According to a 2022 report from the nonpartisan Common Sense Institute, vehicle thefts are more common in low-income communities. The Utica Police Department’s annual report cited an 84% annual jump in motor vehicle thefts between 2020 (118) and 2021 (217). (2019 figures weren’t listed.) The Utica metro also includes nearby Rome, where the rest of the thefts would have occurred.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s median household income in 2021 was only a touch higher than Utica’s, at $45,318 — still 34.3% lower than the national average. A similar scenario plays out in the city Police Department’s annual report, though its 2021 numbers there appear higher than on the NICB data. The annual report shows motor vehicle thefts in Milwaukee increased from 3,487 in 2019 to 4,509 in 2020 to 10,480 in 2021. This occurred as the city prioritized auto theft (among other crimes), partnering with companies to offer free steering wheel locks.
Lastly, Ithaca had the lowest median household income in 2021 of the top-three ranking metros, at $40,973 — 40.6% lower than the U.S. average. Ithaca’s totals are far lower than its counterparts, with motor vehicle thefts increasing 112.0% from 25 to 53. According to the city Police Department’s annual reports, the city itself saw a 13% decrease in motor vehicle thefts between 2019 and 2020 but a 208% increase between 2020 and 2021. Further, Ithaca is also home to Cornell University and Ithaca College — notably, in 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that motor vehicle thefts accounted for 12.0% of reported on-campus crimes.
While we focused on the number of vehicle thefts, the data can differ based on the vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents. In this case, the top three metros remained the same, but other changes occurred among the top 100. Here’s a closer look:
Change in vehicle theft rates by metro between 2019 and 2021
|Rank||Metro||Vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents, 2019||Vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents, 2021||% change in vehicle theft rate, 2019 to 2021|
|8||Glens Falls, NY||17.6||34.8||97.7%|
|14||Mount Vernon, WA||205.1||378.7||84.7%|
|17||Grand Junction, CO||169.9||307.0||80.7%|
|23||Grand Rapids, MI||105.7||180.0||70.3%|
|29||Sioux Falls, SD||270.3||428.1||58.4%|
|31||Fort Collins, CO||146.0||228.7||56.6%|
|32||Idaho Falls, ID||76.6||119.8||56.5%|
|35||Santa Maria, CA||288.5||446.2||54.7%|
|40||Santa Rosa, CA||163.5||243.1||48.7%|
|44||Green Bay, WI||63.2||92.9||47.0%|
|45||Los Angeles, CA||374.1||549.5||46.9%|
|55||Wichita Falls, TX||209.6||293.9||40.2%|
|56||Las Cruces, NM||276.4||386.4||39.8%|
|64||San Francisco, CA||492.3||675.9||37.3%|
|67||Fort Smith, AR||260.4||356.1||36.7%|
|69||New York, NY||96.7||132.1||36.6%|
|72||San Luis Obispo, CA||161.1||219.0||35.9%|
|75||Terre Haute, IN||219.5||298.0||35.8%|
|76||La Crosse, WI||87.8||119.2||35.7%|
|80||Santa Fe, NM||246.7||332.5||34.7%|
|95||Bay City, MI||88.2||116.5||32.0%|
|98||Rapid City, SD||308.9||405.0||31.1%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of NICB data. Note: Limited to the 100 metros with the largest percentage increases.
Notably, Bakersfield, Calif., had the highest number of car thefts per capita as of 2021, at 1,023.7 per 100,000 residents — thefts there rose 43.7% from 2019 to 2021.
Auto thefts climb by at least 75.0% in Colorado, Wisconsin
Some states fared better than others when it came to vehicle thefts. For example, Colorado (80.4%) and Wisconsin (75.2%) were the only states where vehicle thefts rose by at least 75.0% from 2019 to 2021.
While our data analyzed auto thefts through 2021, the previously cited Common Sense Institute report examined motor vehicle thefts in the Centennial State in the first six months of 2022, highlighting interesting points:
- Colorado’s motor vehicle theft rate was the highest across the U.S. in the first six months of 2022
- The estimated value of stolen vehicles in that period was $468.1 million to $848.3 million
- The arrest rate per motor vehicle theft was below 10%
- Vehicle thefts from Denver International Airport accounted for nearly 3% of thefts statewide
In our metro analysis of those with the biggest increases between 2019 and 2021, Colorado was represented three times in the top 20 — Denver (No. 6), Grand Junction (No. 16) and Pueblo (No. 18) — with Greeley just outside at No. 21.
Milwaukee — the largest city in Wisconsin (and No. 2 in our metro analysis) — was the dominant reason Wisconsin placed second here. The next-closest Badger State metro, Janesville, finished at No. 38.
Rounding out the top three was Vermont, with a 64.7% increase in car thefts, with the largest leap coming from 2020 to 2021. Despite the significant rise, however, we should note that the number of vehicles stolen in 2021 was 621 — the lowest in the U.S. by more than 200.
Change in vehicle thefts by state between 2019 and 2021
|Rank||State||Vehicle thefts, 2019||Vehicle thefts, 2021||% change in vehicle thefts, 2019 to 2021|
|5||District of Columbia||2,857||4,362||52.7%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of NICB data.
Looking at the vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents, Colorado again stood out with an astonishing rate of 661.2 — highest across the U.S. That’s compared with Wisconsin’s rate of 236.7 per 100,000 residents. The District of Columbia jumped from fifth based on percentage increases to third place based on the per-capita calculations.
Vermont fell to fourth, with a rate of just 96.2 thefts per 100,000 residents — one of four states with a vehicle theft rate below 100.
Change in vehicle theft rates by state between 2019 and 2021
|Rank||State||Vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents, 2019||Vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents, 2021||% change in vehicle theft rate, 2019 to 2021|
|3||District of Columbia||404.8||651.0||60.8%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of NICB data.
Thefts of Hyundai Elantras in Maryland, Honda CR-Vs in Vermont more than triple
The type of car you own can also impact your chances of getting it stolen — and, as it turns out, having a flashy, expensive sports car isn’t the biggest risk factor here.
In fact, thefts in Maryland of Hyundai Elantras, estimated by Kelley Blue Book (KBB) to start at $21,000 for a 2024 model, increased 253.8% from 2021 to 2022. (Note: While the majority of our data looked at 2019 through 2021, the NICB had data on vehicle type through 2022.)
In Vermont, Honda CR-V thefts increased by 230.0% during that time. The cost of a new CR-V starts at $29,500, according to KBB. For context, the average price consumers paid for new cars was $47,899 as of September 2023.
Among the 10 most stolen vehicles in each state, six states had at least one car with a 100.0% increase from 2021 to 2022, and Hyundai models represented four of them.
The reason why may not surprise you if you’re on social media: A TikTok trend exposed a design flaw in Hyundais and Kias that made it possible to steal certain insert-and-turn key ignition systems in under a minute. This includes Hyundai models like the Elantra and Sonata, which were the most commonly stolen vehicles in eight states. It also helps explain why Kia models made the list twice. Combined, cars from these two companies comprised seven of the top 10 highest increases in thefts by state.
And, upon closer inspection, these types of vehicles also comprised other significant increases in thefts between 2021 and 2022 beyond the top ranking car in each state. For example:
- Pennsylvania had increases of 145.7% and 101.0% for the Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Elantra, respectively
- Maryland’s second-ranking vehicle for theft rates was the Hyundai Sonata (197.3%)
Due to this rise in thefts, the two manufacturers agreed to pay a $200 million settlement for damages, via a class action lawsuit. Plus, cities like Cleveland, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio, have sued the manufacturers over these design flaws as well. This also led insurers to refuse to write policies for those high-risk models, leaving drivers scrambling to find coverage.
Vehicles with the biggest change in thefts by state between 2021 and 2022
|Rank||State||Vehicle||Vehicle thefts, 2021||Vehicle thefts, 2022||% change in vehicle thefts, 2021 to 2022|
|5||Rhode Island||Hyundai Sonata||26||59||126.9%|
|6||Washington||Ford pickup (small size)||421||858||103.8%|
|8||New York||Honda CR-V||735||1,315||78.9%|
|9||District of Columbia||Hyundai Elantra||91||144||58.2%|
|10||New Mexico||Hyundai Elantra||201||316||57.2%|
|15||New Jersey||Land Rover Range Rover||227||326||43.6%|
|17||New Hampshire||Honda CR-V||12||17||41.7%|
|18||Alaska||GMC pickup (full size)||57||80||40.4%|
|20||Nevada||GMC pickup (full size)||271||372||37.3%|
|21||Delaware||Ford pickup (full size)||41||56||36.6%|
|23||Massachusetts||Chevrolet pickup (full size)||97||130||34.0%|
|24||Texas||Ram pickup (full size)||1,420||1,898||33.7%|
|25||Montana||GMC pickup (full size)||49||64||30.6%|
|26||South Dakota||GMC pickup (full size)||40||52||30.0%|
|30||Nebraska||GMC pickup (full size)||80||101||26.3%|
|31||North Carolina||Hyundai Sonata||270||339||25.6%|
|32||North Dakota||Ram pickup (full size)||22||27||22.7%|
|36||Hawaii||Ford pickup (full size)||183||210||14.8%|
|38||Minnesota||Ford pickup (full size)||467||525||12.4%|
|38||Kansas||Dodge pickup (full size)||210||236||12.4%|
|40||Ohio||Ford pickup (full size)||794||887||11.7%|
|41||Louisiana||GMC pickup (full size)||230||256||11.3%|
|42||South Carolina||Nissan Altima||293||321||9.6%|
|43||Florida||Ford pickup (full size)||1,876||2,030||8.2%|
|45||Missouri||Dodge pickup (full size)||639||684||7.0%|
|48||Arkansas||Chevrolet pickup (full size)||528||534||1.1%|
|48||West Virginia||Ford pickup (full size)||89||90||1.1%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of NICB data. Notes: Vehicles had to be among the top 10 most stolen vehicles by state in 2022 to be included. Kentucky and Utah aren’t included because none of the 10 cars in either state saw an increase in vehicle thefts compared to 2021. Only the highest change is listed for each state.
Vermont also stood out for having four cars with theft increases of over 100.0%:
- Honda CR-V (230.0%)
- Honda Civic (155.6%)
- Chevrolet full-size pickup (142.9%)
- Subaru Outback (141.7%)
On the other end of the spectrum, just two states — Kentucky and Utah — didn’t register an increase among their 10 most stolen vehicles.
Does auto insurance cover theft?
For example, if your car is worth $20,000 and you have a $500 deductible, your insurer would pay out $19,500 — you’d then be able to use those funds to pay for a new car. Of course, the value of your car will change over time, so using a trusted source like KBB to track your car’s value can be useful.
“If you have an older car with a low resale value, this may not add up to very much money,” Bhatt says. “However, if your car is worth more than a few thousand dollars, comprehensive and collision are usually worth the money. Comprehensive usually only covers your car at its stock value. A few companies offer an endorsement that covers custom parts and accessories you may have added to your vehicle. Although these endorsements often have limits of $2,000 or so, this gives you a little extra protection for the time and effort you’ve taken to customize your car.”
There is, however, a key caveat to this coverage rule for stolen cars that you may not have thought of. It’s the items inside your car — and comprehensive doesn’t cover that. So if you were to leave a valuable possession, like a laptop or phone, in your car, you wouldn’t get reimbursed for that via your car insurance company. However, as Bhatt notes, other policies, like a home or rental insurance policy will often still cover it.
LendingTree researchers analyzed National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) data on reported stolen vehicles nationally and by metro, state and vehicle type. Our metro and state data mainly highlights the 2019-to-2021 period.
To calculate the vehicles with the biggest percentage change in thefts, we compared the 10 most stolen vehicles in each state in 2022 to the 10 most stolen cars in each state in 2021. Researchers then calculated the percentage change in vehicle thefts for each model that appeared in the top 10 in both years for a particular state.