Auto theft trends in 2024

Auto theft is on the rise. Just 2 years ago, it was estimated that there was 283 auto theft cases for every 100,000 people, which equates to around one motor vehicle theft for every 31 seconds. Unfortunately, as criminals indulge more and more in trends like street racing and the practice of stripping cars for parts and reselling them internationally, more and more vehicles are beginning to vanish off the road.

Part of the reason why theft has increased was due to the pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, but in 2024 the majority of us have returned to office and resumed life “as per usual.” So why should you still be concerned about auto theft in 2024? Why is motor theft still such a huge issue?

Is auto theft on the rise?

While we’re still in the early stages of 2024, it’s tough to say how auto theft will continue to evolve. What we do know is that theft had risen by almost 11% between 2021 to 2022, according to data from the FBI, and that it may continue to do so as manufacturers continue to pump out highly appealing vehicles and car theft cases continue to go unsolved.

Why are so few vehicles recovered in car theft cases?

Unfortunately, solve rates for auto theft have always historically been low, but the spike in auto theft incidents has caused them to drop even more. Public data from New York City shows that police make 14 arrests per every 100 car thefts and in Denver that number’s even lower with 7 arrests for every 100 reported car thefts.

This is for a number of reasons. One is that, typically with property crimes, law enforcement resources are minimal. Budget, staffing, and technology can’t keep up with the rate of auto thefts. Worse still, car theft is often associated with worse crimes. Many thieves will use vehicles to commit worse crimes as they can later ditch the vehicle and law enforcement can’t track them down using a single license plate.

Hyundai and Kia motor thefts in the country

If you didn’t read our previous blog on the latest Hyundai and Kia news, here’s the quick rundown: many major insurers, like State Farm (as the biggest example) are no longer insuring Hyundai and Kia model vehicles due to their high “theftability.” This “theftability” comes from a TikTok demonstrating how certain models of Hyundai and Kia cars could be broken into with a USB cord and a screwdriver. As a result, these vehicles were being lifted off the streets left, right, and center, and insurers no longer wished to stay on risk due to the high chance of a theft claim.

This isn’t old news. Tons of vehicles are considered higher theft than others, whether because of their specific luxurious features that are appealing for resell, their prevalence on the roads, or vulnerable points that allow hackers to steal them easier.

OLBG did a good “prediction” list of what will be the most stolen cars in 2024. When purchasing a car, we recommend drivers to be conscious of the cars on this list. Many insurers will hike the rates of vehicles with high theft appeal; to combat that hike, drivers can either consider alternative models or invest in aftermarket security products.

What are the expectations for auto theft in 2024?

It’s very early to see how trends will shape up in 2024, but we’re already starting to see some shifts that could suggest what we’ll see throughout the year.

One trend that may start to increase in frequency is the use of specific electronic locksmith tools, i.e. ProPads, to steal high-performance vehicles. Vehicles with keyless entry features can be stolen through relay attacks via a blank key FOB and tech found on the Internet. This seems to occur the most with high output engine vehicles, like Dodge Chargers, Durangos, and Challengers, as well as Jeep Grand Cherokees. These vehicles are usually stolen for the purpose of being re-tagged and then sold to unsuspecting buyers, or even later wrecked in street races.

Education in 2024 will be as important as it has ever been for decreasing the risk of auto theft. Vehicle thefts for cars that have been left with their key inside was extremely common in 2022 and 2023, and may be no different for the coming year. Even if you feel you live in a “safe” community, you never know. Never leave your vehicle running and unattended (yes – even in the cold!) and always take your keys with you when you leave your vehicle.

As always, regular auto theft methods such as key swaps at dealers following test drives, car-jackings, and vehicles being stolen at service centers by accessing key boxes continue to be an issue. This is likely to continue into 2024 as well.

With all these trends on the rise and new ones continuing to evolve on the horizon, it’s important to stay vigilant, to stay informed, and to keep in mind all the best ways to protect yourself and your vehicle against the risk of auto theft.

How do you protect yourself against auto theft?

Car theft happens even to the most secure vehicles. While you can’t 100% of the time ensure your car is safe from auto theft, there are a few things you can do to hugely decrease your risk.

Here’s our tips:

  • Always lock your car doors and close the windows when leaving your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit and populated areas, especially at night.
  • Install an anti-theft device such as an alarm system, steering wheel lock, or immobilizer.
  • Don’t leave valuables visible inside the car; store them in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Use a visible deterrent like a “Car Alarm” or “Protected by [Security Company]” sticker.
  • Consider installing a GPS tracking device to help locate your car if it’s stolen.
  • Don’t leave spare keys inside or around your vehicle, even if it’s hidden.
  • Be cautious of where you leave your car keys, and avoid leaving them in obvious or easily accessible places.
  • If possible, use a garage or secure parking facility rather than street parking.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or attempted theft to the authorities.

Note that certain aftermarket car security products can qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance. Call AHI Group to discuss insuring a high-theft vehicle or for tips on how to protect your vehicle better – and save at the same time.