2010 U.S. Auto Thefts Lowest in 43 Years

A report released this week by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) revealed U.S. vehicle thefts dropped to the lowest level since 1967. The decline in thefts represented the seventh straight year that thieves were deterred from or failed to steal vehicles.

257 Urban Areas Report Fewer Thefts

The NICB released preliminary figures this week that showed thefts probably declined 7.2 percent last year from 794,616 in 2009. According to the non-profit trade group, 257 urban areas reported fewer thefts in 2010.

Declines in specific cities include:

  • 1.9 percent decline in New York City area (including northern New Jersey and Long Island) to 29,189
  • 14.5 percent decline in Dallas to 21,963
  • State College, Pa. had the lowest rate with 46 thefts–or 30 per 100,000 people

Other areas with decreases in thefts included Detroit, Los Angeles and Miami.

Enhanced Security Devices, Bait Cars and Insurance Discounts Decrease Auto Theft

While the decrease in auto thefts is encouraging, it is not a surprise to experts. The NICB and other insurance groups say there are a number of reasons for the declines:

  • Better security devices: More cars come with built-in security devices installed by manufacturers, including tracking devices and ignition disablers that make them more difficult to steal successfully.
  • Insurance companies offer discounts: Drivers are now being encouraged to use anti-theft devices by auto insurance companies that offer discounts. This has resulted in an increase in drivers installing their own security features.
  • Increase in bait programs: The NICB says law enforcement in different states are also using more “bait programs” in which officers leave cars unlocked with the keys in the ignition to tempt thieves. These programs have reported helped to reduce thefts significantly.

The adjustments made by automakers, insurance companies and law enforcement collectively have had a huge impact on thefts in the U.S. But experts say that in addition to their efforts, the easiest way to protect your car from theft is to simply lock your doors.