Places With The Most Vehicle Theft In Every State by Ben Taylor, FindTheHome

First, the good news. Motor vehicle theft has dropped significantly in the United States since the early ‘90s. In fact, it’s nearly three times less common today than it was in 1993.

Now, the bad news. Vehicle theft remains a big problem in some regions of the country.

At FindTheHome, a real estate data site that’s part of the Graphiq network, we set out to compare vehicle theft rates around America. We turned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports to analyze the data. In the visualization below, we’ve mapped car thefts by county across the United States.

Vehicle theft is lowest in the Northeast, and particularly in New York. While New York has low rates of car ownership in the first place, the New York Police Department also credits better car technology, the decreasing value of older cars and faster photo I.D. tracking as key factors for dropping rates.

Modern “engine immobilizer” technology — adopted by most manufacturers around the turn of the millennium — now prevents thieves from “hot-wiring” vehicles. If they don’t have the key, they can’t start the car.

On the flip side is Southern California, among the worst areas for vehicle theft in the nation. Not only is California packed with vehicles, but it’s also close to Mexico. Some point to illegal sales south of the border as an ongoing incentive for theft.

Some thieves have developed new methods to keep pace with improving technology, including a so-called “power amplifier.” According to the New York Times, a $30 amplifier can connect a key fob to a car, even when the two are some 50 feet away. In theory, a thief could activate the fob in your pocket or purse, even as you shop for an outfit or dine at a restaurant.

That said, California’s worst county for vehicle theft is actually in Northern California. In the following list, we’ve determined the county with the highest rate of vehicle theft in each state. To avoid outlier counties with low sample sizes, we’ve focused only on counties at or above the 50th percentile by population in each state.

Note that the FBI reports city- and county-level car thefts separately, and the two do not overlap. For each county, our data team combined the numbers from the county itself and the cities within the county, then calculated the overall theft rate per 100,000 people. The data comes from 2014, the latest year available.

While we’ve ordered the overall list from lowest to highest vehicle theft rate, the FBI cautions against interpreting a list like this as a definitive ranking.

Disclaimer: The data published here is meant solely to illustrate the relative rates of vehicle theft, and not to make assertions about the effectiveness of law enforcement. There are many factors that affect the rate and nature of crime — such as the degree of urbanization, composition of age groups, economic climate and modes of transportation within an area — which are not considered here.

Places With The Most Vehicle Theft

#50. Vermont: Windham County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 22.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 10

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,284.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 566

County Population: 44,050
Major City in County: Brattleboro*

*All numbers are aggregated to the overall county level, but we’ve noted a major city in each county for reference.

#49. Maine: Androscoggin County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 67.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 73

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,062.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 2,217

County Population: 107,470
Major City in County: Lewiston

#48. New Hampshire: Hillsborough County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 79
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 318

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,037.6
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 8,207

County Population: 402,776
Major City in County: Manchester

#47. Delaware: New Castle County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 134.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 735

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,930.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 10,539

County Population: 545,846
Major City in County: Wilmington

#46. New York: Erie County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 140.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,297

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,616.5
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 24,090

County Population: 920,694
Major City in County: Buffalo

#45. Wyoming: Sweetwater County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 161.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 72

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,838.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 820

County Population: 44,595
Major City in County: Rock Springs

#44. West Virginia: Kanawha County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 170.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 327

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,491.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 6,695

County Population: 191,765
Major City in County: Charleston

#43. Idaho: Nez Perce County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 216.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 86

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,096.7
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 1,228

County Population: 39,655
Major City in County: Lewiston

#42. South Dakota: Pennington County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 220.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 231

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,062.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 3,203

County Population: 104,574
Major City in County: Rapid City

#41. Rhode Island: Providence County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 235
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,479

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,422.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 15,247

County Population: 629,280
Major City in County: Providence

#40. Massachusetts: Suffolk County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 237.6
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,777

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,619.4
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 19,591

County Population: 747,928
Major City in County: Boston

#39. Illinois: Cook County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 240.1
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 12,551

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,445.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 127,863

County Population: 5,227,827
Major City in County: Chicago

#38. Arizona: Maricopa County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 249.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 9,848

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,546
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 100,499

County Population: 3,947,382
Major City in County: Phoenix

#37. Connecticut: New Haven County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 258.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,235

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,455.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 21,197

County Population: 863,148
Major City in County: New Haven

#36. North Carolina: Columbus County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 302.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 174

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,475.6
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 2,574

County Population: 57,512
Major City in County: Whiteville

#35. Kentucky: Jefferson County

Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 323.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,431

Property Crimes per 100K People:

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