Motor Vehicle Theft

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Definition

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines motor vehicle theft as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.  In the UCR Program, a motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle which runs on land surfaces and not on rails.  Examples of motor vehicles include sport utility vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles.  Motor vehicle theft does not include farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment or water craft such as motorboats, sailboats, houseboats, or jet skis.  The taking of a motor vehicle for temporary use by persons having lawful access is excluded from this definition.

Overview

  • Nationwide in 2006, there were an estimated 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts, or a rate of approximately 398.4 motor vehicles stolen for every 100,000 inhabitants. 
  • The estimated number and rate of motor vehicle thefts in 2006 decreased 3.5 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, when compared with data for 2005.
  • When considering data from 10 years earlier, the estimated number of motor vehicle thefts in 2006 decreased 11.9 percent.  The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts decreased 21.2 percent when compared with estimates for 1997.   (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
  • An estimated 93.5 percent of the Nation’s motor vehicle thefts occurred in Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 2006.  (Based on Table 2.)  (See Area Definitions for more information about Metropolitan Statistical Areas.)
  • Property losses due to motor vehicle theft in 2006 were estimated at $7.9 billion, averaging $6,649 per stolen vehicle.  (Based on Tables 1 and 23.)
  • Among vehicle types, automobiles comprised 73.5 percent of the motor vehicles reported stolen in 2006.  (Based on Table 19.)

Expanded motor vehicle theft data

Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report.  These details may include the type of weapons used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth.  In addition, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
Expanded information regarding motor vehicle theft is available in the following tables:
Trends (2-year):  Tables 12, 13, 14, and 15
Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants):  Tables 16, 17, 18, and 19
Offense Analysis:  Tables 7, 23, and 24
Vehicle Type:  Tables 15 and 19
Motor Vehicle Theft Table, "Motor Vehicle Theft, Percent Distribution by Region, 2006"

What you won't find on this page

  • Makes and models of stolen motor vehicles.  The UCR Program does not collect that information.
  • Clearance and arrest data for motor vehicle theft.