Places with the most vehicle thefts in every state; can you guess where in Wisconsin?

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First, the good news. Motor vehicle theft has dropped significantly in the United States since the early ‘90s. In fact, it’s nearly three times less common today than it was in 1993.

Now, the bad news. Car theft remains a big problem in some regions of the country.

At FindTheHome, a real estate data site that’s part of the Graphiq network, we set out to compare vehicle theft rates around America. We turned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports to analyze the data. In the visualization below, we’ve mapped car thefts by county across the United States.

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Car theft is lowest in the Northeast, and particularly in New York. While New York has low rates of car ownership in the first place, the New York Police Department also credits better car technology, the decreasing value of older cars and faster photo I.D. tracking as key factors for dropping rates.

Modern “engine immobilizer” technology — adopted by most manufacturers around the turn of the millennium — now prevents thieves from “hot-wiring” vehicles. If they don’t have the key, they can’t start the car.

On the flip side is Southern California, among the worst areas for car theft in the nation. Not only is California packed with vehicles, but it’s also close to Mexico. Some point to illegal sales south of the border as an ongoing incentive for theft.

Some thieves have developed new methods to keep pace with improving technology, including a so-called “power amplifier.” According to the New York Times, a $30 amplifier can connect a key fob to a car, even when the two are some 50 feet away. In theory, a thief could activate the fob in your pocket or purse, even as you shop for an outfit or dine at a restaurant.

That said, California’s worst county for vehicle theft is actually in Northern California. In the following list, we’ve determined the county with the highest rate of car theft in each state. To avoid outlier counties with low sample sizes, we’ve focused only on counties at or above the 50th percentile by population in each state.

Note that the FBI reports city- and county-level car thefts separately, and the two do not overlap. For each county, our data team combined the numbers from the county itself and the cities within the county, then calculated the overall theft rate per 100,000 people. The data comes from 2014, the latest year available.

While we’ve ordered the overall list from lowest to highest vehicle theft rate, the FBI cautions against interpreting a list like this as a definitive ranking.

Disclaimer: The data published here is meant solely to illustrate the relative rates of car theft, and not to make assertions about the effectiveness of law enforcement. There are many factors that affect the rate and nature of crime — such as the degree of urbanization, composition of age groups, economic climate and modes of transportation within an area — which are not considered here.

#50. Vermont: Windham County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 22.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 10

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,284.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 566

County Population: 44,050
Major City in County: Brattleboro*

*All numbers are aggregated to the overall county level, but we’ve noted a major city in each county for reference.

#49. Maine: Androscoggin County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 67.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 73

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,062.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 2,217

County Population: 107,470
Major City in County: Lewiston

#48. New Hampshire: Hillsborough County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 79
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 318

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,037.6
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 8,207

County Population: 402,776
Major City in County: Manchester

#47. Delaware: New Castle County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 134.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 735

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,930.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 10,539

County Population: 545,846
Major City in County: Wilmington

#46. New York: Erie County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 140.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,297

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,616.5
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 24,090

County Population: 920,694
Major City in County: Buffalo

#45. Wyoming: Sweetwater County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 161.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 72

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,838.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 820

County Population: 44,595
Major City in County: Rock Springs

#44. West Virginia: Kanawha County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 170.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 327

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,491.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 6,695

County Population: 191,765
Major City in County: Charleston

#43. Idaho: Nez Perce County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 216.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 86

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,096.7
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 1,228

County Population: 39,655
Major City in County: Lewiston

#42. South Dakota: Pennington County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 220.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 231

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,062.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 3,203

County Population: 104,574
Major City in County: Rapid City

#41. Rhode Island: Providence County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 235
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,479

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,422.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 15,247

County Population: 629,280
Major City in County: Providence

#40. Massachusetts: Suffolk County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 237.6
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,777

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,619.4
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 19,591

County Population: 747,928
Major City in County: Boston

#39. Illinois: Cook County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 240.1
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 12,551

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,445.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 127,863

County Population: 5,227,827
Major City in County: Chicago

#38. Arizona: Maricopa County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 249.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 9,848

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,546
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 100,499

County Population: 3,947,382
Major City in County: Phoenix

#37. Connecticut: New Haven County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 258.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,235

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,455.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 21,197

County Population: 863,148
Major City in County: New Haven

#36. North Carolina: Columbus County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 302.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 174

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,475.6
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 2,574

County Population: 57,512
Major City in County: Whiteville

#35. Kentucky: Jefferson County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 323.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,431

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,111.5
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 30,897

County Population: 751,485
Major City in County: Louisville/Jefferson County

#34. Florida: Miami-Dade County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 324.6
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 8,442

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,007
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 104,216

County Population: 2,600,861
Major City in County: Miami

#33. Virginia: Richmond City

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 347.8
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 734

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,974.2
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 8,388

County Population: 211,063
Major City in County: Richmond

#32. Utah: Salt Lake County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 349.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,718

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,300.7
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 35,109

County Population: 1,063,670
Major City in County: Salt Lake City

#31. Ohio: Cuyahoga County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 351
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 4,449

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,402.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 30,456

County Population: 1,267,513
Major City in County: Cleveland

#30. Alaska: Northwest Arctic Borough

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 351.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 27

Property Crimes per 100K People: 1,863.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 143

County Population: 7,672
Major City in County: Kotzebue

#29. Hawaii: Maui County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 358.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 570

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,652.1
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 5,800

County Population: 158,814
Major City in County: Kahului

#28. Arkansas: Pulaski County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 361.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,407

Property Crimes per 100K People: 5,655.5
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 21,986

County Population: 388,752
Major City in County: Little Rock

#27. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 370.3
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 5,728

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,414.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 52,816

County Population: 1,546,920
Major City in County: Philadelphia

#26. Tennessee: Hamilton County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 389.8
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,344

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,295.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 14,809

County Population: 344,772
Major City in County: Chattanooga

#25. Montana: Yellowstone County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 417.2
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 634

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,760.1
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 5,714

County Population: 151,965
Major City in County: Billings

#24. Nevada: Clark County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 427.3
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 8,562

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,798.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 56,080

County Population: 2,003,613
Major City in County: Las Vegas

#23. Mississippi: Hinds County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 481.8
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,187

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,488.1
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 11,057

County Population: 246,364
Major City in County: Jackson

#22. Minnesota: Ramsey County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 487.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,542

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,359.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 17,514

County Population: 521,265
Major City in County: St. Paul

#21. New Jersey: Essex County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 511
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 4,035

Property Crimes per 100K People: 2,223.1
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 17,554

County Population: 789,616
Major City in County: Newark

#20. South Carolina: Orangeburg County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 511.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 467

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,974.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 3,627

County Population: 91,262
Major City in County: Orangeburg

#19. Colorado: Denver County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 541.8
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,434

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,526.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 22,352

County Population: 633,777
Major City in County: Denver

#18. Oklahoma: Oklahoma County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 557.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 4,143

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,665.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 34,674

County Population: 743,145
Major City in County: Oklahoma City

#17. Oregon: Multnomah County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 563
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 4,264

Property Crimes per 100K People: 5,159.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 39,079

County Population: 757,371
Major City in County: Portland

#16. New Mexico: Bernalillo County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 564.2
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,788

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,845.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 32,536

County Population: 671,429
Major City in County: Albuquerque

#15. Alabama: Russell County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 570.4
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 325

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,743.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 2,703

County Population: 56,980
Major City in County: Phenix City

#14. Indiana: Marion County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 576.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 5,302

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,638
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 42,639

County Population: 919,336
Major City in County: Indianapolis

#13. Iowa: Pottawattamie County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 584
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 544

Property Crimes per 100K People: 5,058.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 4,712

County Population: 93,153
Major City in County: Council Bluffs

#12. Nebraska: Douglas County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 614.1
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,261

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,839.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 20,392

County Population: 531,057
Major City in County: Omaha

#11. Kansas: Wyandotte County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 632.1
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 1,008

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,859.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 7,749

County Population: 159,466
Major City in County: Kansas City

#10. Washington: Spokane County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 652.1
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,110

Property Crimes per 100K People: 5,823.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 27,777

County Population: 476,950
Major City in County: Spokane

#9. Georgia: Fulton County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 670.3
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 6,482

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,877.4
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 47,169

County Population: 967,100
Major City in County: Atlanta

#8. Texas: Potter County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 706.3
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 862

Property Crimes per 100K People: 7,784.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 9,501

County Population: 122,053
Major City in County: Amarillo

#7. Michigan: Wayne County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 709
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 12,691

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,080.3
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 55,139

County Population: 1,790,078
Major City in County: Detroit

#6. Louisiana: Orleans Parish

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 709.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 2,615

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,445.9
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 16,382

County Population: 368,471
Major City in County: New Orleans

#5. Maryland: Baltimore City

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 720.9
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 4,486

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,727.8
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 29,420

County Population: 622,271
Major City in County: Baltimore

Note that Baltimore City is also classified as a county.

#4. Wisconsin: Milwaukee County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 760.2
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 7,248

Property Crimes per 100K People: 4,022.7
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 38,352

County Population: 953,401
Major City in County: Milwaukee

#3. California: Alameda County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 777.5
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 12,123

Property Crimes per 100K People: 3,480.5
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 54,272

County Population: 1,559,308
Major City in County: Oakland

#2. Missouri: St. Louis City

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 1018.7
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 3,247

Property Crimes per 100K People: 6,249.6
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 19,919

County Population: 318,727
Major City in County: St. Louis

#1. North Dakota: Williams County

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Vehicle Thefts per 100K People: 1097.3
Total Vehicle Thefts in 2014: 297

Property Crimes per 100K People: 5,952.1
Total Property Crimes in 2014: 1,611

County Population: 27,066
Major City in County: Williston

2 comments

  • Chrisco

    I am so glade I do not live in that garbage city known as Milwaukee. That land of the liberal. How is the liberal way thinking going. I see really well.

Comments are closed.

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