Motor Vehicle Theft

Download Printable Document

Definition

In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, motor vehicle theft is defined as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. In the UCR Program, a motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle that 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

  • There were an estimated 956,846 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2008.
  • In terms of a nationwide rate, there were 314.7 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • The estimated number of motor vehicle thefts declined 12.7 percent when compared with data from 2007, 22.7 percent when compared with 2004 figures, and 16.9 percent when compared with 1999 figures. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
  • Nationwide, more than $6.4 billion was lost to motor vehicle thefts in 2008. The average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $6,751. (Based on Tables 1 and 23.)
  • More than 72 percent (72.4) of all motor vehicles reported stolen in 2008 were automobiles. (Based on Table 19.)

Expanded motor vehicle theft data

Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the UCR Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapon 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, 2008"

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.