These Were the 10 Most Stolen Cars in America Last Year

Do you own one of these cars? Simply locking your doors might not be enough to stop them from being stolen.

2016 Nissan Altima
Nissan—John Murphy

On average, a car is stolen every 40 seconds in the United States.

So says the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which states that vehicle theft is at its highest in 50 years, even with advancements to security and theft prevention technologies. On Tuesday, the NICB released its annual report of the nation's car theft. It identifies both the most stolen models of 2017 and the most stolen vehicles across the nation's history, specifying which model years of the latter group is at the highest risk. 

Below is the NICB's list of the 10 vehicles stolen most in the 2017 calendar year, their most stolen model year, and the respective number of thefts of each model in that period.

  1. Honda Civic: 45,062 thefts (most stolen year: 1998, with 6,707 thefts)
  2. Honda Accord: 43,764 thefts (most stolen year: 1997, with 6,301 thefts)
  3. Ford F-Series: 35,105 thefts (most stolen year: 2006, with 3,151 thefts)
  4. Chevy pickups: 30,058 thefts (most stolen year: 2004, with 1,970 thefts)
  5. Toyota Camry: 17,278 thefts (most stolen year: 2017, with 1,100 thefts)
  6. Nissan Altima: 13,358 thefts (most stolen year: 2016, with 1,450 thefts)
  7. Toyota Corolla: 12,337 thefts (most stolen year: 2016, with 1,012 thefts)
  8. Ram/Dodge Ram: 12,004 thefts (most stolen year: 2001, with 1,242 thefts)
  9. GMC pickups: 10,865 thefts (most stolen year: 2017, with 957 thefts)
  10. Chevy Impala: 9,487 thefts (most stolen year: 2008, with 991 thefts)

Of these ten, five also make the NICB's list of the most stolen 2017 model year vehicles, detailed below.

  1. Nissan Altima: 1,153
  2. Toyota Camry: 1,100
  3. GMC Pickups: 957
  4. Hyundai Elantra: 929
  5. Ford Fusion: 874
  6. Ford F-Series: 842
  7. Ram/Dodge Ram: 835
  8. Toyota Corolla: 832
  9. GMC Savana: 774
  10. Hyundai Sonata: 759

Both the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry appear on the two lists, with 2016 Altima thefts being even more common than with the following model year. One major standout among 2017 vehicles is the GMC Savana, the only van to make either list. Presumably, that's because it's used almost exclusively as a work vehicle instead of a lifestyle vehicle the way many pickups are and can carry valuable tools, building materials, or other work-related cargo.

But why do thieves seem to target one vehicle over another?

"One factor for sure—popularity," explained NICB public affairs director Frank Scafidi to The Drive. "For years, Hondas and Toyotas have shared the most stolen title, and a lot of it has to do with the sheer numbers of those vehicles produced and sold—and still operating—over the years. More targets, more potential to get stolen, especially when drivers make it easy for thieves by leaving their cars running or leaving the keys in them. However, after the introduction of smart keys in 1998, Honda thefts have dropped off substantially."

What's the best way to avoid having your car stolen? The NICB has four suggestions, which start with the obvious: Lock your car, and don't leave your keys inside.

"A good number of thefts occur because people make it easy for thieves," continued Scafidi. "The most secure car on the planet is vulnerable if the driver fails to take the time to employ that security. Leaving keys or fobs in the vehicle is another human-introduced security offset."

"In the past, there have been some makes and models that were just easy to steal either through a design flaw or the use of a 'bump key'—a key that is ground down a bit to work effectively in the ignitions of many models from a manufacturer. But those tricks have been overcome by improvements in both manufacturing and security (smart keys; keyless ignitions, et cetera)," Scafidi concluded. 

The NICB also suggests investing in theft-deterring warning devices such as alarms, and if such a thing doesn't dissuade car thieves, it also recommends immobilizers or vehicle trackers, to either prevent the car's disappearance or allow the vehicle to be hunted down, ideally with the perp nearby. Smart keys aren't perfect, so The Drive would also like to add another theft deterrent to the list: a manual transmission.

Customs agents recovered a stolen 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi when an agent noticed something was amiss with the VIN number.
The Drive