Motor Vehicle Theft

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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.


  • There were an estimated 794,616 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2009. The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts was 258.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • The estimated number of motor vehicle thefts declined 17.1 percent when compared with data from 2008, 35.7 percent when compared with 2005 figures, and 31.5 percent when compared with 2000 figures. (See Table 1A.)
  • Nationwide, nearly $5.2 billion were lost to motor vehicle thefts in 2009. The average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $6,505. (Based on Tables 1 and 23.)
  • More than 72 percent (72.1) of all motor vehicles reported stolen in 2009 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 23 and 24
Vehicle Type: Tables 15, 19 and Motor Vehicle Theft Table, "Motor Vehicle Theft, Percent Distribution by Region, 2009"

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.