The Rise of Vehicle Theft in 2021

With cars in demand in 2021, there is an increase in vehicle theft - here is how you can protect yourself

According to the Denver Post, vehicle thefts are increasing at an alarming rate, up to 114% in the first quarter of 2021 over the previous year, with pickup trucks, Kia, and Hyundai being the key targets.

We were curious if this trend was a national issue and looked into the National Insurance Crime Bureau to see. They mentioned that in 2020 there was a 9.2% increase in crime which matched the trend in Denver, but the NICB has not reported on Q1 results yet. According to Chris Tepedino from, Portland had the most automotive theft over a three-year window of 2017-2019 in the United States, so we decided to check out some of these cities to see if there is a spike there as well.

Top Cities of Theft are seeing 37% Increase in Theft in 2021

  • Portland has seen a 5% increase since last year with Hondas being the top target
  • San Jose the #2 city according to shows a 36% increase in theft, but they did not break down which vehicles were the top targets
  • Seattle, the #3 city is showing a 12% increase in theft
  • Salt Lake City, the #4 city is showing a 74% increase in theft
  • San Francisco, the #5 city on autonisuranceEZ's list shows a 12% increase in theft
  • No data from Riverside, CA as of this writing
  • Las Vegas, #7 on the list is seeing a 21% increase in thefts this year
  • Memphis is the next on the list, but the data is inconclusive as of this writing
  • Louisville, KY is #9 and they are showing a 34% increase in thefts this year
  • Los Angeles, which is next in the list is showing a 39% increase in theft
  • Oklahoma City is #11 and they have data until February of 2021 showing a 3% increase in theft
  • Milwaukee which is next is showing a 152% increase in theft this year
  • San Antonio, TX which is next on the list, only has annual data thus far
  • New Orleans, #14 on the list is showing a nearly 20% increase in automotive theft
  • Tucson, AZ is last on the list and there isn't any data available at the time of this writing

How Does Theft Effect Your Car's Value?

High theft vehicles lead to higher insurance premiums first and foremost. Since insurance companies will have a higher probability of having to pay for repairs or replacement of a vehicle that is commonly stolen, the car owner will end up paying a higher premium.

Another issue is that the higher theft vehicles may require repairs which tends to push down resale values. The two most stolen vehicles for the past 20 years are:

  • Honda Civic
  • Ford F-150

Looking at insurance premiums for a Honda Civic ($22,000 MSRP) and an Acura TL ($33,100 MSRP) from 2005, we see that the insurance premiums are $403 for 6 months for the Civic vs. $429 for 6 months for the TL.

A car that is worth 50% more is only 6% more to insure from the same manufacturer. If normalized for the same pricing, the Civic is 43% more expensive to insure.

The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the top stolen cars ends up being higher (all other things being equal), so in 2021, as thefts are on the rise, your insurance premium may increase too. It may make sense to look at alternative cars if the TCO makes sense for you.

Which Cars Are the Most Stolen in 2021?

Preliminary data shows some new vehicles are trending up this year for top thefts. This is not a complete list, rather it shows some trending vehicles.

  1. 2016 - 2020 Kia models - In Denver, there is a 400% increase in Kia thefts. These cars are being stolen so often that there is a national backlog of parts. This will drive up not just insurance but also maintenance costs in 2021.
  2. Honda Civic - A common vehicle that is stolen due to how quick it is to take apart.
  3. Honda Accord - Same as the Civic, the parts are worth more than the vehicle.
  4. Ford F-150 - The top-selling vehicle in the US is also a top stolen vehicle.
  5. Chevy Silverado - A regular on the top stolen list, it is trending higher in 2021 as the chip shortage is driving up prices of used vehicles.

How To Minimize Theft

According to the NICB, the top things to do to minimize theft are:

  • Lock your car
  • Install a GPS tracker (Keemut is a GPS tracker without the hardware)
  • Install a mobilizer

Keemut currently supports embedded solutions but we will be adding external hardware support in the coming months. This will help with both anti-theft tools as well as valuation and depreciation analysis.