The pandemic behind the rise in car theft numbers in the US

The pandemic behind the rise in car theft numbers in the US


Due to the outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, more and more cars have been left unattended.
2020 has truly been a year to forget when it comes to car thefts, among other things. According to a report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 880,595 vehicles were stolen in the US alone, up 10.9% from 2019. 

While the numbers have slightly stabilised as restrictions around the pandemic have been easing, the pandemic itself has been continuing well into 2021.

The US cities and states most affected by car theft in 2020 

The District of Columbia recorded the highest rate of vehicle theft – at 563 per 100,000 residents.
Colorado (502), California (475), Missouri (453), and New Mexico (426) completed the top five.

Below is the complete listing:

Washington, DC (562.98)
Colorado (502.12)
California (475.24)
Missouri (453.63)
New Mexico (426.79)
Oregon (385.08)
Oklahoma (371.28)
Washington (386.46)
Nevada (365.84)
Kansas (325.28)

As for urban centres, three Californian cities rank in the top 5. Bakersfield boasts the unenviable record of 905 thefts per 100,000 residents, followed by Yuba City (724); Denver, Colorado (706); Odessa, Texas (624); and San Francisco (655).


Below is the complete listing:

Bakersfield, CA (905.41)
Yuba City, California (724.46)
Denver, CO (705.80)
Odessa, TX (624.28)
San Francisco, California (655.20)
Albuquerque, NM (613.75)
Pueblo, CO (602.39)
Billings, MT (564.79)
St. Joseph, MO (564.64)
Tulsa, OK (551.76)

Contributing factors in car theft increase in the US

  • First of all, the pandemic. Due to lockdown, Americans had to leave their cars unattended longer than usual;
  • Secondly, car keys left inside the vehicle – Forgetting keys in the glove box or on the car seat has made stealing cars child’s play, especially with keyless ignition systems becoming increasingly popular.
  • Next is the Police cuts – Fewer resources available to put cops in the streets and a change in Police priorities have made it easier to steal vehicles and for crimes to remain unpunished. 
  • And finally, unemployment. The pandemic has caused soaring unemployment, particularly among young people, some of whom are pushed to steal cars and sell them for profit.

But what can we do to stop our cars from being stolen?


Top tips to avoid car theft 

  1. Use common sense – Always remove your keys from the ignition, lock your doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
  1. Activate anti-theft devices -These include visual and audio devices such as alarms, steering wheel locks and brake locks. These are excellent deterrents for fewer expert thieves who generally find themselves with less time to remove them.
  1. Install engine immobilisers – A particular electronic anti-theft device connecting the vehicle’s control unit and the starter motor prevents the engine from starting unless using the correct key.
  1. Use Tracking Devices – These are very effective tools to help authorities recover stolen vehicles. They combine GPS and wireless technology to monitor vehicles remotely.
  1. Parkin closed and well-lit areas: thanks to Sotefin automated parking systems, you no longer need to worry about your car being vandalised or stolen. Not only will you park in well-lit and operated areas, but you will also be completely safe, as these spaces are closed to the public.

Did you know? 

We have already given some valuable tips to avoid car theft – read them here!