Motor vehicle theft, one of the most serious offenses tracked by the FBI, is on the rise in the United States. There were a total of 810,400 motor vehicle thefts nationwide in 2020, the most in over a decade.

Motor vehicle theft can be either the theft or attempted theft of a vehicle, such as a car, truck, ATV, or motorcycle. Some experts attribute the rising rates of vehicle theft to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to vehicles sitting unattended and unused for longer than usual. Additionally, vehicle theft is often committed for monetary gain, and the pandemic sent unemployment soaring and left many Americans struggling financially.

While motorists nationwide now face a greater risk of vehicle theft than they have in many years, in some parts of the country, car owners are far more likely to be victims of car theft than in others.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area, located in California, has one of the highest motor vehicle theft rates in the United States. According to data from the FBI, there were 10,058 vehicle thefts in the metro area in 2020, or 506 for every 100,000 people - far higher than the motor vehicle theft rate nationwide of 246 per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft - along with larceny and burglary - is one of three criminal offenses that comprise the property crime category. Due in large part to the higher than average vehicle theft rate, the overall property crime rate in the metro area also exceeds the comparable national rate. There were 2,227 property crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the metro area in 2020, compared to 1,958 per 100,000 nationwide.

All crime data used in this story is from the FBI's 2020 Uniform Crime Report. Limited data was available in the 2020 UCR for areas in Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, though these states were not excluded from our analysis. Only metro areas for which the boundaries defined by the FBI match the boundaries defined by the U.S. Census Bureau were considered.


RankMetro areaVehicle thefts per 100k people, 2020Total vehicle thefts, 2020Total property crimes per 100k people, 2020
1Bakersfield, CA8397,5373,106
2Denver, CO73422,0113,303
3Albuquerque, NM6636,1203,654
4Fairbanks, AK6442124,152
5Pueblo, CO6401,078N/A
6San Francisco, CA60428,5753,008
7Yuba City, CA5941,0392,440
8Salt Lake City, UT5446,7853,817
9Billings, MT5439983,472
10Tulsa, OK5355,3783,110
11St. Joseph, MO-KS5316633,541
12Odessa, TX5188762,957
13Chattanooga, TN-GA5142,9233,070
14San Jose, CA50610,0582,227
15Vallejo, CA5022,2432,391
16Merced, CA4851,3462,146
17Salem, OR4802,0982,854
18Portland, OR-WA47211,8452,678
19Seattle, WA45718,4283,157
20Los Angeles, CA44858,8232,095
21Memphis, TN-MS-AR4456,0013,719
22Amarillo, TX4401,1683,043
23Riverside, CA43520,2221,985
24Yakima, WA4261,0672,725
25Omaha, NE-IA4204,0122,281
26Santa Maria, CA4131,8371,986
27Fresno, CA4094,0722,481
28Rapid City, SD4065842,971
29Pine Bluff, AR4043503,048
30Kalamazoo, MI4041,0743,307
31Florence, SC4048283,601
32Joplin, MO4037253,532
33Lubbock, TX4001,2973,682
34Anchorage, AK3941,2023,405
35Oklahoma City, OK3935,6132,916
36Visalia, CA3881,8022,025
37Colorado Springs, CO3852,8962,653
38Columbia, SC3823,2343,272
39Sioux Falls, SD3811,0402,524
40Modesto, CA3812,0911,974
41Stockton, CA3802,8972,333
42Greeley, CO3781,2512,163
43Houston, TX37426,8772,617
44Las Vegas, NV3708,5642,047
45St. Louis, MO-IL36910,327N/A
46Hanford, CA3685571,654
48Midland, TX3686882,168
47New Orleans, LA3684,6862,755
49Santa Cruz, CA3679982,266
50Macon, GA3678422,746


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