Despite declines for property crime overall, car theft was on the rise early last year, according to new national crime figures from the FBI.
The number of stolen car cases rose 1% in the first half of 2015, compared to the same period the year before, the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report says.
That’s despite an overall drop in property crimes in all other categories of the database, as calculated from local and regional crime stats submitted to the FBI by thousands of law-enforcement agencies across the nation. Burglary was down nearly 10% and larceny theft by more than 3% versus the same period a year earlier.
While all categories of violent crime also saw a surprising uptick, a surge in car theft wasn’t completely unexpected. The crime-stats crunchers at the Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Insurance Crime Bureau previously projected an increase in auto theft of as much as 9% for the first half of 2015. The NICB said anti-theft technologies that had been keeping car thieves at bay in recent years have led criminals to become more clever. For instance, some have figured out how to prey on rental-fleet car fleets or use falsified ownership titles.
Moreover, motor vehicle theft over the past decade has not fallen as dramatically as the rates for other crimes. While property crimes overall during the past 10 years dipped by about 19%, auto theft went down less than 2%.
Still, it is possible that the trend could reverse: The figures from the first six months of last year still are preliminary and subject to change. As of 2014 — the most recent full year of available data — auto theft rates were still sliding across the nation.
Based on each state’s number of incidents per 100,000 residents, as calculated by the FBI’s annual report for 2014, the states (including the District of Columbia) with
the highest auto-theft rates are:
10. Georgia; 26,854 thefts; 266.0 thefts per 100,000 residents
9. South Carolina; 12,902 thefts; 267.0
8. Missouri; 16,357 thefts; 269.8
7. Oklahoma; 10,583 thefts; 272.9
6. Hawaii; 3,879 thefts; 273.3
5. New Mexico; 6,290 thefts; 301.6
4. Nevada; 10,185 thefts; 358.7
3. California; 151,852 thefts; 391.3
2. Washington; 30,647 thefts; 434.0
1. District of Columbia; 3,783 thefts; 574.1
The states with the lowest auto-theft rates are:
10. South Dakota; 1,007 thefts; 118.0
9. Wyoming; 603 thefts; 103.2
8. West Virginia; 1,896 thefts; 102.5
7. Pennsylvania; 13,040 thefts; 102.0
6. Idaho; 1,661 thefts; 101.6
5. Virginia; 7,665 thefts; 92.1
4. New York; 15,736 thefts; 79.7
3. New Hampshire; 857 thefts; 64.6
2. Maine; 799 thefts; 60.1
1. Vermont; 244 thefts; 38.9